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The topic of motivating employees is extremely important to managers and supervisors. Despite the important of the topic, several myths persist -- especially among new managers and supervisors. Before looking at what management can do to support the motivation of employees, it's important first to clear up these common myths.
1. Myth #1 -- "I can motivate people"
Not really -- they have to motivate themselves. You can't motivate people anymore than you can empower them. Employees have to motivate and empower themselves. However, you can set up an environment where they best motivate and empower themselves. The key is knowing how to set up the environment for each of your employees.
2. Myth #2 -- "Money is a good motivator"
Not really. Certain things like money, a nice office and job security can help people from becoming less motivated, but they usually don't help people to become more motivated. A key goal is to understand the motivations of each of your employees.
3. Myth #3 -- "Fear is a damn good motivator"
Fear is a great motivator -- for a very short time. That's why a lot of yelling from the boss won't seem to "light a spark under employees" for a very long time.
4. Myth #4 -- "I know what motivates me, so I know what motivates my employees"
Not really. Different people are motivated by different things. I may be greatly motivated by earning time away from my job to spend more time my family. You might be motivated much more by recognition of a job well done. People are not motivated by the same things. Again, a key goal is to understand what motivates each of your employees.
5. Myth #5 -- "Increased job satisfaction means increased job performance"
Research shows this isn't necessarily true at all. Increased job satisfaction does not necessarily mean increased job performance. If the goals of the organization are not aligned with the goals of employees, then employees aren't effectively working toward the mission of the organization.
6. Myth #6 -- "I can't comprehend employee motivation -- it's a science"
Nah. Not true. There are some very basic steps you can take that will go a long way toward supporting your employees to motivate themselves toward increased performance in their jobs. (More about these steps is provided later on in this article.)
Basic Principles to Remember
1. Motivating employees starts with motivating yourself
It's amazing how, if you hate your job, it seems like everyone else does, too. If you are very stressed out, it seems like everyone else is, too. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you're enthusiastic about your job, it's much easier for others to be, too. Also, if you're doing a good job of taking care of yourself and your own job, you'll have much clearer perspective on how others are doing in theirs.
A great place to start learning about motivation is to start understanding your own motivations. The key to helping to motivate your employees is to understand what motivates them. So what motivates you? Consider, for example, time with family, recognition, a job well done, service, learning, etc. How is your job configured to support your own motivations? What can you do to better motivate yourself?
2. Always work to align goals of the organization with goals of employees
As mentioned above, employees can be all fired up about their work and be working very hard. However, if the results of their work don't contribute to the goals of the organization, then the organization is not any better off than if the employees were sitting on their hands -- maybe worse off! Therefore, it's critical that managers and supervisors know what they want from their employees. These preferences should be worded in terms of goals for the organization. Identifying the goals for the organization is usually done during strategic planning. Whatever steps you take to support the motivation of your employees (various steps are suggested below), ensure that employees have strong input to identifying their goals and that these goals are aligned with goals of the organization. (Goals should be worded to be "SMARTER". More about this later on below.)
3. Key to supporting the motivation of your employees is understanding what motivates each of them
Each person is motivated by different things. Whatever steps you take to support the motivation of your employees, they should first include finding out what it is that really motivates each of your employees. You can find this out by asking them, listening to them and observing them. (More about this later on below.)
4. Recognize that supporting employee motivation is a process, not a task
Organizations change all the time, as do people. Indeed, it is an ongoing process to sustain an environment where each employee can strongly motivate themselves. If you look at sustaining employee motivation as an ongoing process, then you'll be much more fulfilled and motivated yourself.
5. Support employee motivation by using organizational systems (for example, policies and procedures) -- don't just count on good intentions
Don't just count on cultivating strong interpersonal relationships with employees to help motivate them. The nature of these relationships can change greatly, for example, during times of stress. Instead, use reliable and comprehensive systems in the workplace to help motivate employees. For example, establish compensation systems, employee performance systems, organizational policies and procedures, etc., to support employee motivation. Also, establishing various systems and structures helps ensure clear understanding and equitable treatment of employees.
Steps You Can Take
The following specific steps can help you go a long way toward supporting your employees to motivate themselves in your organization.
1. Do more than read this article -- apply what you're reading here
This maxim is true when reading any management publication.
2. Briefly write down the motivational factors that sustain you and what you can do to sustain them
This little bit of "motivation planning" can give you strong perspective on how to think about supporting the motivations of your employees.
3. Make of list of three to five things that motivate each of your employees
Read the checklist of possible motivators. Fill out the list yourself for each of your employees and then have each of your employees fill out the list for themselves. Compare your answers to theirs. Recognize the differences between your impression of what you think is important to them and what they think is important to them. Then meet with each of your employees to discuss what they think are the most important motivational factors to them. Lastly, take some time alone to write down how you will modify your approaches with each employee to ensure their motivational factors are being met. (NOTE: This may seem like a "soft, touchy-feely exercise" to you. If it does, then talk to a peer or your boss about it. Much of what's important in management is based very much on "soft, touchy-feely exercises". Learn to become more comfortable with them. The place to start is to recognize their importance.)
4. Work with each employee to ensure their motivational factors are taken into consideration in your reward systems
For example, their jobs might be redesigned to be more fulfilling. You might find more means to provide recognition, if that is important to them. You might develop a personnel policy that rewards employees with more family time, etc.
5. Have one-on-one meetings with each employee
Employees are motivated more by your care and concern for them than by your attention to them. Get to know your employees, their families, their favorite foods, names of their children, etc. This can sound manipulative -- and it will be if not done sincerely. However, even if you sincerely want to get to know each of your employees, it may not happen unless you intentionally set aside time to be with each of them.
6. Cultivate strong skills in delegation
Delegation includes conveying responsibility and authority to your employees so they can carry out certain tasks. However, you leave it up to your employees to decide how they will carry out the tasks. Skills in delegation can free up a great deal of time for managers and supervisors. It also allows employees to take a stronger role in their jobs, which usually means more fulfillment and motivation in their jobs, as well.
7. Reward it when you see it
A critical lesson for new managers and supervisors is to learn to focus on employee behaviors, not on employee personalities. Performance in the workplace should be based on behaviors toward goals, not on popularity of employees. You can get in a great deal of trouble (legally, morally and interpersonally) for focusing only on how you feel about your employees rather than on what you're seeing with your eyeballs.
8. Reward it soon after you see it
This helps to reinforce the notion that you highly prefer the behaviors that you're currently seeing from your employees. Often, the shorter the time between an employee's action and your reward for the action, the clearer it is to the employee that you highly prefer that action.
9. Implement at least the basic principles of performance management
Good performance management includes identifying goals, measures to indicate if the goals are being met or not, ongoing attention and feedback about measures toward the goals, and corrective actions to redirect activities back toward achieving the goals when necessary. Performance management can focus on organizations, groups, processes in the organization and employees.
10. Establish goals that are SMARTER
SMARTER goals are: specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic, timely, extending of capabilities, and rewarding to those involved.
11. Clearly convey how employee results contribute to organizational results
Employees often feel strong fulfillment from realizing that they're actually making a difference. This realization often requires clear communication about organizational goals, employee progress toward those goals and celebration when the goals are met.
12. Celebrate achievements
This critical step is often forgotten. New managers and supervisors are often focused on a getting "a lot done". This usually means identifying and solving problems. Experienced managers come to understand that acknowledging and celebrating a solution to a problem can be every bit as important as the solution itself. Without ongoing acknowledgement of success, employees become frustrated, skeptical and even cynical about efforts in the organization.
13. Let employees hear from their customers (internal or external)
Let employees hear customers proclaim the benefits of the efforts of the employee . For example, if the employee is working to keep internal computer systems running for other employees (internal customers) in the organization, then have other employees express their gratitude to the employee. If an employee is providing a product or service to external customers, then bring in a customer to express their appreciation to the employee.
14. Admit to yourself (and to an appropriate someone else) if you don't like an employee --
Managers and supervisors are people. It's not unusual to just not like someone who works for you. That someone could, for example, look like an uncle you don't like. In this case, admit to yourself that you don't like the employee. Then talk to someone else who is appropriate to hear about your distaste for the employee, for example, a peer, your boss, your spouse, etc. Indicate to the appropriate person that you want to explore what it is that you don't like about the employee and would like to come to a clearer perception of how you can accomplish a positive working relationship with the employee. It often helps a great deal just to talk out loud about how you feel and get someone else's opinion about the situation. As noted above, if you continue to focus on what you see about employee performance, you'll go a long way toward ensuring that your treatment of employees remains fair and equitable.
How to keep employees motivated and happy
by E.A. Paul
Employers need to recognize that keeping their employees motivated and happy is the best way for a successful enterprise. After all, without productive employees, the business will be effected in many negative ways. So, the question is, how does an employer keep their employees motivated and happy?
For one thing, employees need to be happy more than anything else. If they aren't happy, their work performance will suffer, and therefore their actions will have a negative effect on the company. So let's talk about how employers can make their employees happy. I do know one thing here, it's not always money that keeps employees happy. They need to feel important; that they are needed. There's nothing more that will bring down an employee's moral than not feeling wanted. The employer needs to recognize this, and find new and creative ways to keep their employees feeling wanted and needed.
To keep employees happy, there also needs to be a way for the employee to talk to upper management to vent their frustrations. The worst thing an employer can do here is to put up a suggestion box. Not only is this impersonal, but most employees will get the feeling that upper management doesn't want to talk to them. The employee has to have a way to talk to their boss without any obstructions.
What about keeping employees motivated? First, the employee has to feel good about the company and their job. If this isn't accomplished, their motivation to do a better job will suffer. The management's job here is to have one on one conversations with each and every employee to get a sense of where the employee is at with their job and the company. The old ways of keeping employees motivated with contests just doesn't work. If he employee doesn't feel good about their job or the company, all the contests in the world wont help to motivate the employee. Management has to come up with much more creative ways to keep their employees motivated. Like I said before, it isn't always money that keeps employees motivated.
Keeping employees motivated and happy boils down to just a few things here. The employee has to feel good about his/her job. There's nothing worse than an employee that is just scraping by their job just to take home a pay check. It is the management's job to make sure each and every employee is happy and satisfied. So the bottom line here rests on the employer. In order to make sure their employers are motivated and happy, the upper management has to do their part to ensure their employees are happy and satisfied with their job.
"Management" (from Old French ménagement "the art of conducting, directing", from Latin manu agere "to lead by the hand") characterises the process of leading and directing all or part of an organization, often a business, through the deployment and manipulation of resources (human, financial, material, intellectual or intangible). â€¦
What is management? What do managers do? How do I manage?
These are standard questions that most of us in the management profession have been asked more than once. And questions we asked once in our careers too. Here, then, is a basic look at management, a primer, Management 101 from my perspective.
Art and Science
Management is both art and science. It is the art of making people more effective than they would have been without you. The science is in how you do that. There are four basic pillars: plan, organize, direct, and monitor.
Make Them More Effective
Four workers can make 6 units in an eight-hour shift without a manager. If I hire you to manage them and they still make 6 units a day, what is the benefit to my business of having hired you? On the other hand, if they now make 8 units per day, you, the manager, have value.
The same analogy applies to service, or retail, or teaching, or any other kind of work. Can your group handle more customer calls with you than without? Sell higher value merchandise? Impart knowledge more effectively? etc. That is the value of management - making a group of individual more effective.
Basic Management Skill #1: Plan
Management starts with planning. Good management starts with good planning. And proper prior planning preventsâ€¦ well, you know the rest of that one.
Without a plan you will never succeed. If you happen to make it to the goal, it will have been by luck or chance and is not repeatable. You may make it as a flash-in-the-pan, an overnight sensation, but you will never have the track record of accomplishments of which success is made.
Figure out what your goal is (or listen when your boss tells you). Then figure out the best way to get there. What resources do you have? What can you get? Compare strengths and weaknesses of individuals and other resources. Will putting four workers on a task that takes 14 hours cost less than renting a machine that can do the same task with one worker in 6 hours? If you change the first shift from an 8 AM start to a 10 AM start, can they handle the early evening rush so you don't have to hire an extra person for the second shift?
Look at all the probable scenarios. Plan for them. Figure out the worst possible scenario and plan for that too. Evaluate your different plans and develop what, in your best judgement, will work the best and what you will do if it doesn't.
TIP: One of the most often overlooked management planning tools is the most effective. Ask the people doing the work for their input.
Basic Management Skill #2: Organize
Now that you have a plan, you have to make it happen. Is everything ready ahead of your group so the right stuff will get to your group at the right time? Is your group prepared to do its part of the plan? Is the downstream organization ready for what your group will deliver and when it will arrive?
Are the workers trained? Are they motivated? Do they have the equipment they need? Are there spare parts available for the equipment? Has purchasing ordered the material? Is it the right stuff? Will it get here on the appropriate schedule?
Do the legwork to make sure everything needed to execute the plan is ready to go, or will be when it is needed. Check back to make sure that everyone understands their role and the importance of their role to the overall success.
Basic Management Skill #3: Direct
Now flip the "ON" switch. Tell people what they need to do. I like to think of this part like conducting an orchestra. Everyone in the orchestra has the music in front of them. They know which section is playing which piece and when. They know when to come in, what to play, and when to stop again. The conductor cues each section to make the music happen. That's your job here. You've given all your musicians (workers) the sheet music (the plan). You have the right number of musicians (workers) in each section (department), and you've arranged the sections on stage so the music will sound best (you have organized the work). Now you need only to tap the podium lightly with your baton to get their attention and give the downbeat.
Basic Management Skill #4: Monitor
Now that you have everything moving, you have to keep an eye on things. Make sure everything is going according to the plan. When it isn't going according to plan, you need to step in and adjust the plan, just as the orchestra conductor will adjust the tempo.
Problems will come up. Someone will get sick. A part won't be delivered on time. A key customer will go bankrupt. That is why you developed a contingency plan in the first place. You, as the manager, have to be always aware of what's going on so you can make the adjustments required.
This is an iterative process. When something is out of sync, you need to Plan a fix, Organize the resources to make it work, Direct the people who will make it happen, and continue to Monitor the effect of the change.
Is It Worth It
Managing people is not easy. However, it can be done successfully. And it can be a very rewarding experience. Remember that management, like any other skill, is something that you can improve at with study and practice.