There's nothing quite like the drive and motivation you experience when working with a new employee. Be it a desire to impress, the excitement of new surroundings or an inspirational role, new employees are often proactive, focused and willing to go above and beyond. As most business owners know, however, the daily grind, relaxed expectations or simply boredom can quickly turn a motivated employee into a potential problem.
Keeping your team motivated does not have to be a difficult task, and with a few easy steps you can increase morale and performance.
Outline specific goals
It's all well and good to expect our employees to work hard. However, we sometimes forget the benefit of being very specific about what they should be working towards. Don't assume that because the bigger picture is crystal clear in your mind, your staff has the same vision. Ensure all tasks are outlined and clearly explained and, if necessary, broken down into smaller, more achievable tasks. Remember, when we achieve we are motivated to keep achieving, so ensure your team members have measurable and concrete ways of knowing they are on the right track.
Give praise regularly
In business, we often forget that money is not everything. A kind word or a show of approval can mean the difference between an employee who is driven to move the business forward and one who is content to do the bare minimum. Don't feel that praise will spoil your staff, and give credit where it is due.
Give meaningful rewards
If feasible consider non-verbal rewards including, but not limited to, monetary ones. The key to effective rewarding is that it is meaningful to the person receiving it. There isn't really a one size that fits all, and knowing what will motivate each member is a learning process that will take time. Make a conscious effort to find out what sorts of rewards would be appreciated.
When considering monetary rewards
Keep in mind that while monetary rewards can be beneficial, the way they are administered is also important. A structured approach is especially important in this instance because you want to make sure that money is directly associated with progress and achievement. Rather than simply giving cash bonuses, link them with increased responsibilities or promotions. Not only will this make the event more meaningful and memorable, it will also strengthen the notion that with more money comes more responsibility.
Treat mistakes as learning opportunities
Staff can sometimes lose motivation to succeed when they feel that their failures are reprimanded too harshly. A common sentiment is "why risk it?", and so they stagnate. When you instil a sense in your team that their mistakes are actually valuable learning opportunities, they will be more willing to not only bring them to light when they occur (which is always a good thing), they will also be more willing to push themselves further and focus on the possibility of success rather than failure.
Lead with fairness and integrity
Perhaps the quickest way to extinguish the motivational fire in an employee is to create an unfair or uncaring work environment. An employee who feels insignificant, witnesses favouritism or simply does not respect you will be unmotivated and often very vocal to others about it. Being a leader rather than just a boss means giving your team opportunities to be heard, keeping them informed and leading with the business's interests (which includes theirs) at heart.
Like most things in small business, staff motivation is not a one-off event. It takes time and dedication. Monitor the head space of each team member regularly and do so with an open mind. Remember, sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference, so be on the lookout for those specific things that drive your employees and work towards incorporating them into your overall management strategy.
Find this helpful? You might also like:
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.