Top 10 Tips to Motivate Employees

Monday, August 11th, 2008

10. Find an Inspirational Space
There is nothing special about most places of business, but there are notable exceptions. The campus of the household goods company S.C. Johnson contains three Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Companies won’t want to drain the corporate coffers to create architectural masterpieces, but a little thought devoted to what distinguishes the place of work from the mundane world outside, can go a long way.

9. Set the Right Culture
As a leader you want a work culture that guides employees towards higher standards. Openness, resilience and engagement are fundamental for setting the right cultural landscape. A good leader encourages his employees by setting exciting challenges. The right challenges boost the employee’s creativity and engagement and improve the company’s productivity.

8. Measure Results
Good leaders- yes even kind ones- measure results. No matter what you are trying to do – lose weight, jump higher, improve shareholder return, – unless you measure there is no chance of improving. Good leaders see measures as organization-wide indicators of performance that require collective analyses and problem solving.

7. Money is Not Everything
Getting paid in line with industry standards is important, of course, as is being rewarded in other ways for work well done. However, good leaders know there is much more to motivation than monetary rewards. Not one of the successful leaders we interviewed mentioned compensations as a means to regulate behavior and to focus employees attention on what is most important.

6. Recognize Achievements
Don’t lose sight of the many accomplishments that occur outside the formal goal-setting process. It is impossible to identify everything that will need to be done a year or more in advance. It is essential to recognize achievements that went beyond the call of duty. Frequent praise and rewards work well.

5. It’s How You Say It
Very often, it isn’t what you say that matters, but how you say it. The best leaders have a knack for saying the right things in the right ways. Those ways help to structure meanings and thoughts. Andy Stern, the visionary head of the 1.9 million-member Service Employees International Union, underscores the importance of framing a conversation. They way you say something makes people more or less receptive. Be positive and enthusiastic.

4. Connect with Your People
Take the time to learn about the skills, family life and passions of your employees. Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Asset Management, learned from his early military experience that leadership necessarily involves getting to know the people around you. It is impossible to command effectively without developing a bond with the people whose lives are dependent on the health of the entire group and the decisions the leader ultimately makes.

3. Be an Idealist
Companies that have a sense of higher purpose attract and retain passionate employees. Proctor and Gamble, Smucker’s, Rodale, Vanguard and Tupperware all have it. They don’t just sell detergents, jellies, magazines, financial security, or plastic products; they make life easier, bring families together, and help to make people more secure. Beyond the day-to-day concerns about market shares and profits, these companies are all trying to improve the world and peoples’ lives. That may sound terribly idealistic, but that’s what these leaders are: idealists.

2. Solicit Ideas from Everyone
Giving people the true means to realize ideas and plans has a very important side-benefit. It communicates that good ideas aren’t the sole province of executives and that it is quite possible for suggestions that are consistent with the organization’s direction to emanate from anywhere in the organization. Google considers ideas one of its greatest assets, second only to its employees.

1. Be Honorable
Great leaders go above and beyond what is necessary. We came across a story recently in which a new hire asked to delay their starting day by a week because a relative had died. Instead, his boss told the new employee that he could have the week off, with pay. The bottom line is that companies that do the honorable thing are repaid a hundred-fold by employees who do not forget and who understand that their interests are a part of the business equation.