Keep your employees motivated
Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs
Keeping up your staff morale is important whether things are going well or not so great with your business. Motivated employees make for better business all around.
What is motivation about?
- Motivation is based on giving people an appropriate blend of rewards; money, recognition, friendships, security, the challenge of new projects or a sense of doing something worthwhile
- Employees must be aware of the possibilities for them at work
- Most people need to feel they can influence results by their actions
- For many people, the chance to achieve ambitions is very inspiring
We're in this together
The key to successful motivation is your attitude.
- Treat employees as partners in the business. Keep people informed about business performance and management decisions. Ask them for their input on decisions that affect them. Create a good working environment and provide training and equipment for the job
- Build an atmosphere of trust and teamwork. A company run on defensiveness and fear is a miserable place to work. Employees will avoid making decisions in case they are wrong, so accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process. Encourage people to ask for help when problems arise.
- Keep communication open and honest. Schedule regular appraisals to review progress, problems and plans. Encourage employees to do most of the talking during these sessions, by using open questions like: 'How well do you feel you are doing?'
- Take an interest in people's lives. Be prepared to chat about the things your employees are interested in. Listen actively, and be consistent and fair, in your approach.
- Build team spirit with regular briefings. Hold brief daily or weekly meetings to plan work, establish goals and discuss any special events and deadlines. Share any news and problems and give employees credit for their achievements.
What are your goals?
Your employees will not be motivated if they don't know what's expected of them. The goals you set for the company need to be turned into achievable goals for the people working in it. If employees can see how their success contributes to the big picture, they'll feel motivated and part of the team.
- Always agree on realistic goals that directly benefit the business. Ensure employees can influence the results they are being asked to achieve. Agree on targets against which you and the employees can monitor performance, and reward goals that are achieved.
- Give everyone a chance at success. For example, a bookkeeper is more likely to stop debtors taking liberties if he or she has responsibility for bringing the figures down. The bookkeeper also needs to know why this matters so much. If employees understand problems, they often come up with solutions themselves.
Praise and criticism
Let your employees know when they're doing well and when they're doing badly.
Remember why you are giving feedback: to improve performance, help learning and build employees' motivation and self-esteem
Respond to people's successes and failures quickly, so they can make adjustments. Say exactly why you are congratulating someone or wanting to help them improve. Don't save up praise or criticism for reviews, or for when you lose your temper
Avoid getting personal. Describe the negative consequences of an action, rather than criticising the person. Keep your praise and criticisms messages. Once the message has sunk in, encourage the employee to brainstorm with you how better results could be achieved
Frame criticisms constructively, in ways that will help people to improve. But aim to praise people's achievements ten times as often as you point out mistakes
Make the work interesting
If you apply your mind, this is not as difficult as it sounds. You need to know which individual employees are ambitious and which are content to stay in the same jobs.
- Identify which employees have the capacity to learn new skills, and help them to do exactly that
- Increase the variety of tasks to make the work more stimulating
- Giving employees the chance to shoulder more responsibility increases their sense of involvement
- Swapping people around, so they can try each other's jobs and appreciate each other's roles, develops versatility and team spirit
- You risk losing talented employees if they are under-used, frustrated or bored
- Ask employees the key question: 'If you could improve just one thing about your work situation, what would it be?'
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
Remuneration packages play an important role in motivating employees, but extra money may be scarce and is not the only way to reward your staff. Rewards or employee benefits can include:
- The most visible or obvious part of any remuneration package is the salary. Salary can be made up of several elements including basic pay, commission, bonuses and profit-sharing schemes
- Many employees appreciate company contributions to pension, insurance or medical aids
- Company cars or petrol allowances are a popular perk for many employees
- Consider offering staff discounts on your products or services. Subsidised meals and accommodation can be attractive benefits to many
- Company events and days out can be very effective and you can use them to reward specific achievements. It's a useful way of rewarding groups of people, building team spirit at the same time
You can now see how important motivated and inspired people are to the success of your business. Make sure it's part of your employee management approach.
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