How to motivate your employees

You’re working hard to drive your company forward. You have customers to keep happy, vendors to maintain relationships with, a myriad of financial pressures, and you have all the thrills and chills of leading employees. Perhaps, even better is to view employees as a dynamic yet unstable mass of energy that requires constant attention to produce the desired outcomes. Just when you think you’ve got everything dialed in just right, something simple can disturb the balance and cause things to go haywire.

Sometimes that mass of energy can become so slow and lifeless that progress grinds to a halt. That’s when leaders begin scratching their heads and praying to the leadership gods for the answer to the ultimate business question – how do you motivate employees? Why is the answer so elusive and complex? Easy; we’re dealing with an extraordinary concoction of personalities, thinking and behaviors. Motivators that work for some never work for all. And, just when you think you have the balance and energy right, the slightest lack of attention, appreciation, drama or loss of focus can throw a motivated team into a whining and grumbling funk.

From a 30,000-foot vantage point, here are three huge no-compromise strategies to keep your team motivated:

  • Give them something to fight for: People will go the extra mile for a cause that touches their hearts and minds. Hey, it could even be a “we have to do this to survive and save our jobs” cause. It could the goal to have the best year ever and hit bonus. It could be working together to build something extraordinary for a special client. Projects, innovation, raising money for a charity – anything that aligns the energy of a team on a goal – that’s what motivates people.
  • Knock off the command and control tactics: Fear is a short-term motivator. It may get a job done, but it does nothing to build a dynamic culture. The flipside of command and control is mentoring, coaching, clarifying expectations, communication, acknowledgement and opportunity. Reprimands certainly do have their place, but if your style is 80-percent reprimand and 20-percent positive reinforcement, don’t expect inspired motivation to magically materialize in your company.
  • An unmotivated leader can’t motivate anyone: Leading and growing a business in this economy is tough. It can wear you down as a leader. And if you take enough hits without a win, it can be pretty hard to put your game face on and inspire others. We’re seeing a lot of this these days. Leaders need to monitor their own emotional state and know when to ask for help. The worst thing a leader can do is try to carry the weight of the entire company on his or her shoulders. There are team members who really care and will step up. And the best leaders rely on the guidance and encouragement of a coach or mentor. That outside perspective is invaluable because they can see solutions and opportunities that you cannot.

So, the secret sauce to motivating people is, and always will be, in the hands of the leader. If you’re asking the question, “How do you motivate people?”, it’s time to step back and assess your approach to leadership. Give Strategies a call and explore how we can help you make your own secret sauce.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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