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The Right Way to Motivate

Follow these tips to encourage your employees to be most productive.

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Some bosses fall into a rut of being either too soft and forgiving or too stern and demanding. There is a happy medium, but it requires specific boundaries and clear communication. The key is to outline expectations and provide opportunities for wiggle room when needed.

Value Your Employees

Top leaders motivate employees to accomplish more than they ever thought possible. When employees feel valued, invigorated, and important, then they want to put forth maximum effort to meet and exceed goals. On the contrary, when employees do not feel heard, or feel overwhelmed by expectations, then they might freeze or even act out.

To effectively motivate your employees, find out what drives each person on your team to be successful. Then, ask how you can help.

Motivate your employees by asking one question: What can I do to help you to accomplish your goal? or What can I do to help you to become more productive? This simple “what can I do” phrasing lets the employees know that they are valued and an important part of the team. Further, it highlights that you are personally committed to their individual success.

Remember to follow up when circumstances change in the office. What worked for your employee last year may no longer be a current source of motivation.

Watch Your Words and Tone

Sometimes, we can unintentionally make things worse despite good intentions. So, pay close attention to word choice and tone.

Avoid threatening the employee. Don’t say, “If you don’t do this, I’ll find someone who can.” Avoid comparing the employee to a star worker. Don’t say, “Suzy sure is better at meeting her deadlines than you are.” Both tactics are demotivating and discouraging.

Some employees make you earn their trust while others are trusting until you prove them wrong. In both instances, threatening language will serve to demotivate the employee and squash trust.

Common management mistakes include coercing the employee into compliance and comparing the employee to others.

Some employers mistakenly assume that everyone is motivated by the same thing. Take time to recognize that different employees are driven by different factors. So, the same tactic or reward won’t work for everyone. And, where an employee is in the life cycle will likely impact what drives her to accomplish a specific goal. For instance, an employee at the start of a career might be driven to make connections or to gain brownie points to score a spot in line for the next promotion. An employee who is mid-career and starting a family may be motivated by extra time off or opportunities for flexible scheduling.

Tip: Don’t assume that you know what your employee wants or needs. Keep communication open and, when possible, work together to devise a plan where the employee feels most supported and committed to accomplishing personal and company-related objectives.

Copyright© 2021 Amy Cooper Hakim

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