The Best Ways to Motivate Employees

by Chris Miksen

Often a daunting task for managers is to motivate their employees. Various approaches to motivation can either spur production or cause it to come to a screeching halt. To increase employee motivation as a manager, you may need to stop looking over every employee’s shoulder, make your employees happy and comfortable and give them a target to aim for.

Workplace Conditions

Help your employees love their jobs, and you'll see their motivation increase. Start out by creating an environment that promotes safety, cuts down on stress, favors your employees' health and enables them to work more effectively and efficiently. For example, order new ergonomic chairs or allow employees on their feet all day to take five-minute breaks every hour. Make sure your building's heating and air conditioning are always working and that your employees aren't dealing with finicky computers, ripped oven gloves, broken pizza paddles or flat rubber mats that provide no comfort for their feet -- whatever applies to your field. Employees lose their motivation to put forth a solid effort if they realize the company isn't making the effort to provide good working conditions.

Don't Micromanage

Despite the notion that snapping the whip will lead to more production, that's usually not the case, and it certainly won't result in more motivated employees. Avoid breathing down your employees' necks and eyeing their every move, and don't tell them it's your way or the highway. Allowing your employees to find their own solutions to problems or carving out their own paths toward their goals will generally increase motivation. Getting there themselves also makes them happier and feel more successful. However, it is a balancing act. Motivation increases if you arm your employees with a plan that helps them succeed. The trick is to make that plan flexible, rather than rigid and absolute, so your employees can use it in their own ways.

Set Goals

It's difficult for your employees to become go-getters when they're essentially told to aim at an invisible target. Communicate with your employees as a whole and as individuals, explaining what you expect out of the group and out of each person and why those goals are important. Suppose you work in management for a video game developer. One goal for your team may be to have an alpha build ready by the end of the calendar year. Doing so will give your team a sense of accomplishment, seeing all their work coming together in a rough version, and it will allow you to further test, expand and polish the game. But that's a fairly large goal. Break it down by setting goals for each development team that will come together to accomplish the ultimate goal. You want your employees to see how their work, however small it seems in the big picture, helps the company.

Acknowledge Success

For many employees, acknowledgment of their successes and contributions to the company is vital for their continued motivation. It doesn't feel very good to put forth a lot of effort that leads to positive results and receive not even a mention of your accomplishments. Let employees know with a face-to-face meeting that you appreciate what they've done. Approving raises -- or suggesting raises, depending on your position and how your company is structured -- is also a good idea for productive employees, but a simple pat on the back can go a long way.

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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