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5 Overlooked Ways to Motivate Your Staff

Posted by Louellen Essex on March 9, 2015 in Managing Difficult Situations, Performance Management, Team Development

Motivation is a complex topic. Because each employee has differing needs and drives, one size doesn’t fit all. Yet, everyone has a handful of basic desires: to make a contribution, to feel part of something meaningful, and to be acknowledged. Sometimes leaders forget to utilize those fundamental principles to create a motivating work environment. Here are some things you can do to energize your workforce.

Reduce the workload.
High performers report they hit the burnout wall when managers load them up with excess work. While this guarantees that things are done well, it leaves high performers feeling that their good work is being punished by the additional burden it seems to bring. If you need a high performer to do something, take something off his/her plate, keeping the workload in balance. For all staff persons, no matter what their performance level, assessing what is being done that isn’t really necessary, then removing it from workloads, is a sure fire way of bringing about renewed energy.

Tell success stories.
When we hear how what we do makes a difference, we understand more fully the importance and meaning of our jobs. Relate stories of customers, patients, clients who benefited from the services and products employees provide. Take a moment in each staff meeting to relate a story or two that tells how your group impacted those they serve. Better yet, invite them to speak to your staff or participate in focus groups aimed at evaluating your level of customer/client service. Keep your staff close to the population they serve.

Use work itself as a reward.
When successful with a task, reward a staff member with another task that offers more autonomy, influence, or challenge. Staging work in a way that creates a path to a desired outcome, i.e. a promotion or new skill set, generates momentum and a feeling of moving forward in the organization. For many, when jobs are mastered, being given more freedom to do the work with little oversight is a coveted reward. Assign work with a progression in mind that acknowledges each accomplishment.

Use yourself as a role model.
Recognize that as a leader, you are being watched. If you want to motivate others to be better team players, demonstrate teamwork with your colleagues and other departments. If you want more work output, make your own workload and outcomes both impressive and transparent. Remember that what you do signals more about work expectations than what you say.

Say thank you more often.
Especially in times of change, staff members report they often feel taken for granted as their work demands are altered and stress mounts. Words of gratitude provide a momentary boost in energy and feeling of being recognized for the effort put forth. Email, hand-written notes, or person-to-person exchanges, done consistently and sincerely, foster an environment where staff know their effort is appreciated.

Motivating others requires a thoughtful approach that involves more than a company t-shirt or a pizza lunch. Become more intentional about the way in which you weave a motivational aspect to all that you do.

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex