Finding and hiring the right talent in your industry is challenging enough. But even after you’ve overcome the challenge of building a competent team, the work doesn’t end there. Your teams and employees are going to have their good days and bad days like every other human being, which presents yet another challenge for small business owners: how can you consistently keep your employees motivated?
Scare tactics and ruthlessly inspiring fear through discipline and the threat of being fired are hardly effective means to consistently inspire motivation, especially in the long term. Using these negative techniques will cause your team to implode as irate employees leave your small business in a mass exodus to seek a job where they don’t constantly feel like they’re under attack.
Effective leaders know how to introduce positive stimuli to the workplace, so let’s take a closer look at some positive means you can implement to motivate employees.
Create a Rich Business Culture and Pleasant Work Environment
Businesses that don’t even consciously try to create a company culture are usually droll and unpleasant places to be. And the repercussions of such a workplace are detrimental to the efficiency, success, and future of the business. Employees wake up dreading the course of their day in complete misery instead of feeling challenged, motivated, and excited to go to work.
What kind of life is that? Instead, you need to make your workplace a pleasant place to be instead of a scene out of the movie Office Space. Define your companies core values and apply them to the hiring process to create a cohesive team that will adopt your company culture. Additionally, make your work environment as pleasant as possible. Not only do you want it to feel warm and inviting, but also remember to keep it clean and organized.
Implement an Incentive System
Whether your employees’ pay is based on an hourly or salary agreement, sometimes work can feel like an endless slog, a never-ending repetitive grind like something out of Groundhog Day. You need to give your employees something to look forward to, a goal to reach for. One way to accomplish this to implement an incentive system – some form of reward based on merit and performance.
Not only does this give employees an extra reason to work harder, but it also increases healthy competition. I’m sure everyone has heard of these types of incentive systems when applied to a sales force. Depending on your budget constraints, one example could be that highest-selling member of your sales department wins a table at the end of the quarter, with second and third place prizes as well.
Deliver Positive Feedback
Negativity has a ruinous effect on personal relationships, motivation, and performance. While negativity is impossible to completely eradicate since it is part of the spectrum of human nature, it should be mitigated as much as possible and replaced with positive feedback. If you have to be critical of an employees actions of performance, try to do it in a way as gentle and respectful as possible.
Don’t publicly shame and employee or chew them out, especially for little things. Not only is respectful constructive criticism a must, but so is positive feedback. After all, doesn’t it feel good to know that your work is appreciated? Positive feedback is as encouraging as it is motivating, and it should be communicated as frequently as possible.
If you want your employees to be motivated and invested in the future of your business, then strive to be as transparent as possible. The more open you are with your team, the more they will trust you, which is never a bad thing. Let your employees know how well the business is doing, and let them know what the forecast looks like. In addition to making your employees feel like they’re really important, being transparent help uncover pain points and ways to improve moving forward.
Allow Appropriate Freedoms in the Workplace
Employees spend the majority of their waking hours in their work environment, so they should be allowed to settle in and prepare for the long haul. If they’re uncomfortable in their individual workspace, not only will the quality of their work decrease, so will their mood, productivity, and motivation.
Employees should be afforded certain freedoms – within limits – to express themselves and make their personal space feel like home. No, you don’t have to go to any zany extremes like Google or Facebook to create a unique environment. But small things, like hanging pictures, decorations, plants, and other personal touches will make their environment seem more friendly.
Bonuses and Rewards
Employees are much more motivated by a leader whom they feel has their best interest at heart, someone whom they feel is genuinely taking care of them. At the end of the year, especially around the holiday season, who doesn’t like to be surprised by a bonus or other reward?
Bonuses and rewards are similar to an incentive program, though I would argue they’re different because the employee didn’t expect it. Furthermore, bonuses and rewards are great ways to anchor an employee to your business and motivate them to continue working for you.
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