Jun 02

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Motivate your employees creatively

motivating-team-membersSometimes the “thank yous” don’t seem to cut it when you’re trying to motivate your subordinates.

Approximately 46 percent of employees who leave a workplace do so because they don’t feel appreciated, research shows. And 88 percent of workers report that the work they do goes unacknowledged.

Don’t let this be the case at your company. As a good manager, you need to tip the scales. Show your employees you value them — and give them incentives to be more productive — by trying ideas like these:

  • Workers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, OH were swamped one year when a nearby hospital closed and they received most of its patients. To thank employees for their hard work in coping with the change, administration gave them all free gasoline cards.
  • If workers meet their goals, consider giving them a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Going out to eat on the company’s dime is a big incentive.
  • Once a month, provide your workers with a special meal or snacks during meetings. Doing this will emphasize that the meeting is important, increase participation and make the meeting something to look forward to.
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Feb 03

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Rekindle your passion at work

rekindle-your-passion-at-workThink back to your first day on the job. Were you nervous and anxious to do the best job you could? Now think about yesterday — did you feel the same excitement?

Chances are, your answer to that question is “No.” Everyone wants to follow their passion, but that’s easy when passion’s flame is fresh. However, as that flame fades, you must work harder and harder to remain passionate about your career.

Good news: You can re-ignite your joy for the job you perform. These four strategies will get you started:


  1. Stoke your own fire. Passion comes from your heart, which means no one can light that flame for you. If you aren’t sure of your passion or how to reignite it, try speaking to people you admire or retrace your steps so that you remember what pushed you on your career path to start with. Interesting:As a manager, your employees may look to you for inspiration. By being a fair, compassionate leader, you may help them keep their fires stoked.
  2. Redefine your passion. What motivated you early in your career may not be enough to motivate you now. You have different perspectives, skill sets and values than you used to. Try this:Set goals that match this stage in your life. Determine what you hope to accomplish and then focus on that. This new vision will help you remain invested and passionate about your career. Example: Perhaps you began your career hoping to make your company excellent. Now that you feel comfortable with your performance, you may want to focus on cultivating your company’s next generation of leaders as a coach or mentor. This simple change in focus can be enough to revitalize your energy and pump up your professional spirit.
  3. Get used to being uncomfortable. Often, a slump in passion results from increased monotony at work. You can break out of that slump simply by doing things differently — or doing different things. Try this: You could take your skill set to your local community college or organization for a series of lectures or apply your business experiences by expanding your company’s operations into the global arena. When you shake up your daily life, your passion could multiply astronomically.
  4. Focus on the big picture. Thinking about a cause or problem outside of yourself can be a powerful tool for rekindling your passion. You may find that your current position doesn’t offer the same challenges that attracted you in the beginning, but another group or cause does. Think of it like this: Now that you’ve conquered your career, you could use your skills and experiences to solve other people’s problems. For instance, if you figured out how to streamline your company’s finances, you may be the perfect person to work with a non-profit agency to work out the kinks in theirs. As the source of your passion matures, consider the many ways your career can evolve, as well.
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Dec 09

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Motivate employees without using company money

motivate-employeesEvery company is dealing with budget cuts and an unstable economy — but that doesn’t mean you can’t find cost-effective ways to motivate your staff.

“Studies show that money is a short-term motivator,” says management consultant Joe Raasch. That means you don’t need access to your company’s bank account to spur your workers to success.

Here’s how to you can create a program that keeps your employees motivated:

Cater to your employees’ desires. You’ll need to know what makes your employees tick before you can establish your program. Ask yourself:

  • Do my employees want to reach corporate or personal goals?
  • Would they appreciate an extra day of vacation or a longer lunch hour?
  • Do they want more challenging assignments?
  • Do they need daily rewards?

Once you know what goals your employees are working for, you can use those incentives to keep them motivated.

Reward individual and group efforts. Even the toughest work day contains some type of success. Your job is to ferret out those high points and encourage your employees to replicate them every day.

Example: Consider the last time one of your employees resolved an angry phone call or met a deadline despite his personal or professional shake-ups. Those are the times when you need to highlight the small successes rather than focusing on problems your employees can’t fix.

Key motivator: Employees will be less likely to give up during a challenge if they know you’re paying attention to their hard work.

Open up new opportunities. When your staff members have tackled one challenge, give them another one. Your faith in them will inspire them to continue accomplishing your company’s goals.

Try this: Allow workers to attend a meeting in your place or loop them into planning sessions to show them that you trust them.

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Sep 23

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Banish self-defeating views to heighten your success

business-ladderIt’s easier to tell yourself that you can’t do something than it is to tell yourself that you can do it. If you can change what you believe about your own abilities, you might just increase your chance for success.

A belief, or a thought that is reinforced by emotion, can come from several sources, including family, gender, culture, education and experience, according to Patricia Soldati in her article Beliefs That Hold You Back. Beliefs can become ingrained so that we don’t even realize they’re negatively influencing our lives, she claims.

Here are some common beliefs that you may hold, whether you know it or not:

“It’s noble to be a hard worker.”
“I can only find fulfillment from my personal life, not my work life.”
“I need more skills before I can advance in my career.”
“It’s too late in life to make a career change.”
“I’m afraid to take risks and fail.”

Fix Your Sabotaging Beliefs

There are three reasons why people hold on to beliefs and reinforce them, according to Soldati. We start by labeling them, which includes a rationalization of where the belief stems from and why it’s okay to hold on to the belief.

Then, we participate in what Soldati calls “selective data gathering.” We ignore evidence that contradicts the belief and focus on any evidence that supports the belief.

Finally, we disguise the belief as an advantage. For example, if you believe that hard work is noble, you’ll turn this belief into “I work harder than John, which is why I’ll get the promotion.” While this may empower you in some ways, it can also be limiting. You’re ignoring the fact that you might have more than hard work at your disposal, such as experience and intelligence.

What you can do: The good news is that you can work to change your beliefs and open more doors for success. Soldati recommends these five steps toward re-programming a belief:

  1. Recognize the belief that’s holding you back and make a commitment to change it.
  2. Create a new belief to substitute the old one. Make sure the belief is in the present tense, has a tone of certainty, is self-respecting, is free from limitations and means something to you on an emotional level.
  3. Repeat the new belief every day for about a month. Picture the belief positively influencing your life, recommends Soldati.
  4. Be aware of the old belief when it resurfaces, acknowledge it without beating yourself up and then just make a conscious effort to redirect your focus to the new belief.
  5. Actively live your new belief. Become the embodiment of the belief so that it becomes your reality.
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Sep 16

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Why your motivation methods aren’t working

carrot-on-a-stickOne of your employees doesn’t seem as content with his job as he used to. He is neither as upbeat nor as productive as he was. Public recognition of his job used to motivate him, but now it barely gets a smile.

People’s motivations change over time — what was a goal six months ago may be just a memory today. Supervisors must tailor their motivational feedback to the employee’s individual needs, says Gary S. Topchik, author of The Accidental Manager.

“Today, a team member may be focused on self-worth needs. Tomorrow, she can go out and buy a new house with a big mortgage. Then the need for job security and a higher salary becomes much more important,” Topchik notes.

Topchik also says supervisors should individualize their feedback and motivational strategies because employees are motivated by different things. “One team member may be motivated by public recognition, while another might be motivated by the one-to-one feedback that he gets from his manager.”

The following are some ways to help you change your motivators to fit with your employees’ needs:

  • Find out what motivates each employee. Ask him what is most important to him about his job right now. If you would prefer a more indirect approach, observe his behavior and actions. Listen for clues when he talks with you. His concerns will be tied to his goals in some way. For example, if he repeatedly asks for feedback, you know recognition is a priority with him at the moment.
  • Avoid making assumptions. Don’t assume you know what motivates a person before asking him or observing his behavior. Leave your values and assumptions out of your assessment.
  • Reward, don’t punish, your best performers. “Many managers and organizations punish their best performers each day and usually don’t even know that they are doing it,” Topchik says. Many supervisors “reward” their employee’s good work with more work to do. This can alienate and depress even the most motivated employee.
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