You've had the team-building day and implemented a comprehensive
systems overhaul. The salary reviews went smoothly. Yet performance
is still down. Staff motivation is sometimes overlooked - and it
can have a huge impact on your business. Unmotivated staff
inevitably lead to relaxed discipline, low morale and eventual HR
problems. Here are some tactics to help you become the
Assessing motivation levels
- Are these levels currently acceptable, or are you actually
pushing too hard by striving for excellence? Are things generally
at a low ebb? Or worse still, are there factors that are clearly
destroying staff motivation levels?
- Don't just focus on the high fliers. It can be even more
important (and difficult) to motivate the journeymen who fuel the
engine room of your business. Identify the people who are the
lifeblood of the company. The peer leaders of various social
groupings are not always the managers, but they frequently set the
standards, attitude and behavior of other staff in the area.
Sometimes the source problem will be common knowledge at management
level or even on the shop floor - perhaps a company setback or loss
of employee trust, an unpopular manager or a troublesome team
member. Don't ignore it. Left unchecked, the problem may affect
Increasing motivation levels
- Consider a full and frank discussion across all levels of the
organization to determine individual outlooks, identify issues
holding the company back and ways to increase motivation. Sometimes
employees will feel more comfortable talking to an independent
third party on a confidential basis. Bringing issues out into the
open is sometimes all that is required.
- Personality assessments are a recognized motivational tool. Who
is the best person to lead and motivate a team? What are the hidden
talents of your staff? Where is conflict coming from?
- Don't let negatives get everyone down. Bad things can become
the office gossip of the day. Circulate positive (true) stories.
Turn potentially negative stories into positive ones.
- Motivate your team with rewards. Get the staff to brainstorm
ways to recognize each other's achievements. Surprise your team
with a treat. Compliment staff often in public and privately.
- Goals help staff motivate and challenge themselves. But be
aware that repeated failure can damage morale. Ensure goals are
realistic, and that you have a road map to achieve them.
- Be aware that individual merit incentives may undermine
teamwork. Each employee's attitude has an impact on the overall
attitude of the office. Consider the global approach, rewarding all
based on company-wide results.
- Build a culture of respect. Involve staff in decisions. Seek
their advice. Establish relationships with individual members of
your staff, and pay attention to what uniquely motivates different
- Give your staff opportunities to represent the company. Allow
them to attend conferences, take on leadership roles with
professional associations and establish a network of contacts.
Although apparently risky, your support actually contributes to
satisfaction in your employee's current job.