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Motivate Employees and Get Their Best Efforts

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October 02, 2014

blog_inner_img To motivate your employees is to see your company succeed. It is critical to the overall success of the business, similar to the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” There are many options a manager faces when deciding how to best motivate employees. Two of the primary approaches often used are fear and positive reinforcement. Both have their place, but of the two, positive reinforcement is more powerful and will lead to longer term success.

However, the key for managers is to find the motivators that lead not only to employees completing tasks, but doing so in a way that fosters pride by the employee. A motivational approach that relies most heavily on positive reinforcement will build this pride and return significant long term results. However, by itself, positive reinforcement is not enough to motivate employees. To truly see amazing, positive, long term results, managers should combine positive reinforcement with a feeling of connectedness by the employee to the overall goals of the company.

Too often, the default approach to motivate employees is fear—fear that the employee will lose out on a job, lose a promotion, or look bad in front of co-workers. These work as short-term motivators to get specific tasks done, but are horrible for overall morale. Moreover, relying on fear as a means to motivate employees leads to situations where the employee may be motivated to do a specific task, but becomes unmotivated to do anything beyond the tasks assigned. This results in a situation where managers must micro-manage to get more than basic tasks done, because the employee is unwilling to contribute their own creativity to think beyond what is specifically asked of them.

Positive reinforcement through specific recognitions, rewards, and incentives will not only contribute to specific task completion, but do so in a way that lets employees know their work is valued. This helps the company create a culture where employees know that hard work pays off, leading to employees creatively developing solutions to problems. This approach to motivate employees is more advantageous than using fear as a motivator because the manager can trust that the employees will be doing their best work on every task, not just the most pressing. In choosing positive reinforcements to motivate employees, managers should choose them carefully so that they are sustainable. To motivate employees through promises of monetary rewards and incentives will result in resentment if “prizes” are not awarded upon achievements. It is also not ideal, as it could be both expensive to the company and set up a culture of entitlement by employees.

Instead, a company would be well-served to take an approach that rewards employees with specific praise for employees that do a good job; to sprinkle in monetary rewards/incentives selectively for things that contribute to the overall success of the company; and to find other things an employee cares about – all used in combination to achieve the desired results.

  • One of the critical ways to motivate employees is to make sure that employees clearly understand the goals of the company, group, division, and team and then set up a way to directly link the personal goals of the employees to these larger goals. In this way, the employee can know that achieving their own goals will directly contribute to the overall success for the company.
  • When goals for the company, group, division, and team are clearly known by employees, this enables the company to do things like friendly competitions. It is very appropriate then to use some real, tangible reward (e.g. special bonus, travel, rewards) to motivate groups to help achieve success. The same approach can be used to with public praise as the outcome (e.g. preferred parking in the parking lot, names posted in the cafeteria, etc.) to motivate employees.
  • Employees are also motivated by tangible things that contribute to the long term individual success for them personally. Educational opportunities, visibility to upper management, and clearly defined stretch projects that develop skills required for advancement are all great examples of ways to motivate employees that they will find valuable and rewarding.
  • The key for managers is to find the right combination of positive reinforcement and pride-building items that make the employee want to achieve short term success, think creatively to contribute to the overall mission/goals of the company, and that positions the employee for long term success on future activities.

    Increasing employee productivity using the above approach requires a company to have an infrastructure in place that fosters the motivational drivers the company finds most valuable. This infrastructure includes processes, training for managers to understand how to best motivate employees, and the right Employee Performance Management software tools to support these processes. Jakoba Software can help you turn your employee assessment process into a powerful tool that will help your company achieve measurable, sustainable results. Contact us today to find out we can help you get the most from your employees.

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