Leadership:
How to Motivate Employees

The question about how to motivate employees is pretty common amongst business owners. We all want our businesses to be a positive and motivating place to work but sometimes they just aren't and it can be tricky working out how to change it.  

Business Coaching Insight:

People will do more for recognition than money

One thing is certain, it is never about money.

If employees are feeling demotivated, a pay rise may give them a temporary boost but in a few short months they will be back to the same place. 

The reality is you need to dig deeper to find out what is causing staff to be demotivated and be prepared to listen to the answer, even if you don't like it. 

Staff turn on's

On the one hand the key ingredients for motivated staff are quite simple and if you meet these needs there's a good chance people will be pretty happy working in your business:

  • They need to feel like they're involved in something productive and meaningful 
  • They need to feel appreciated and recognized (and treated like a 'partner')

and turn off's...

On the other hand, human beings are complex creatures and there are a lot of things that go on in businesses that can inadvertently turn people's excitement off. They may include things like:

  • Being set unrealistic targets (without discussion) - challenging goals are good for motivation but if you set them too high your staff won't bother trying to achieve them so aim for the 'sweet spot' between comfortable and stretching
  • Not being told why they're being asked to do things - what's the bigger picture?
  • A lack of clear vision and direction - this is one of the ways you can help your employees feel like they're involved in something meaningful. 
  • Being given tasks that are the equivalent of digging holes and filling them up again 
  • A lack of communication - are lots of meetings going on behind closed doors?
  • Poor management - no matter how great your business, bad managers cause staff to leave
  • Not being given sufficient back-up or support - overworking your staff without giving them adequate support will have them looking elsewhere  
  • Excessive policies, procedures and systems – while these are important and necessary to maintain standards in any business, they need to be workable for your employees and not place an unreasonable burden.

Motivating individuals

When you're thinking about how to motivate employees, it's also important to be aware of the fact that each individual is different too. 

Understanding their individual personality type and different needs will really help you work out how to handle individual team members. 

For example, if we take the DISC profile:

  • D's like to feel important and are motivated by being in control in leadership positions.
  • I's are very people oriented and are motivated by praise and approval from others
  • S's are motivated by relationships and feeling like they're part of a family. Show them you care about them and they will be very loyal.
  • C's are very detail oriented and motivated by being recognized for their accurate and perfect work.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • What can you start doing to consciously change how to motivate employees?
  • What do you suspect may be causing your staff to feel demotivated?
  • How might you be contributing to your staff feeling demotivated?

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