While the issue of motivating your employees is one that can make or break your business, a lot of people rely heavily on only two methods: a raise and a promotion. The problem with these two methods, however, is the fact that they only work until a certain threshold is met. For instance, you can’t just raise your staff’s salaries indefinitely (and stay profitable), same as how they will eventually reach a spot from which you will no longer be able to elevate them in your corporate structure. In order to avoid this ever becoming a problem, you need to look for alternative ways to motivate your employees and here are five of them.
Give them more autonomy
When you show a lack of trust in an employee, you never know in what way that is going to impact them. Some people stop trying as hard, believing that any talk of promotion, sizeable raise or even a preferred lateral move within the company is now out of the question. Others, start doubting themselves which, once again, results in a drop in their morale and productivity. In other words, the only outcome that you can’t possibly get from displaying a lack of trust is a positive one. Therefore, give your employees more autonomy to make some choices of their own and you will beyond doubt boost their self-confidence and make them work extra hard.
Even though it is a great thing to make your office team- rather than individual-oriented, sometimes, when it comes to the issue of motivation, you will have to take a one-on-one approach. If the entire team is doing great, so is the individual; however, some of your more ambitious and competitive employees might feel as if their good work is going unnoticed. All you have to do in order to fix this is schedule a meeting, send them a handwritten thank you note or invite them to dinner where you should discuss their performance and their future in the company.
Show them that you care
In the introduction, we mentioned that the issue of motivation isn’t always a matter of money; however, giving your employee a reloadable prepaid visa card as a corporate gift might still be a great idea. You see, a gift card is not necessarily perceived as a financial incentive and there are several reasons behind this. First, it means that you care about your employees so much that you’re willing to surprise them even when there’s, seemingly, nothing for you to gain. Second, by going for a gift card instead of a gift, you are minimizing the chance of purchasing the wrong thing. In fact, you’re even being a lot less pretentious, seeing as how you’re allowing your employees to choose for themselves in your name.
Give them feedback
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that feedback is great both when an employee is over- and underperforming. If they’re over-performing, by making a comment about this in front of their peers, you will give positive reinforcement that is bound to make them try harder in the future. On the other hand, if there’s an area in which they are lagging behind, you might mention this, as well, so that they have a chance to improve.
It may seem illogical to assume that a mention of their poor performance can motivate employees, yet, there is a method to this madness. It all depends on the way you go about this. For instance, if you start by listing all the good work they’ve done in the previous years and mention that there is a single area in which they could do some improving, you don’t have to hurt their ego at all. In fact, if, later on, you mention that you need them to improve since the company is counting on them, or due to the fact that you need them to advance and take on a leadership role in the future, you can criticize them and leave them highly motivated for work.
Listen, really listen
One of the skills that every single employer needs is that of active listening. When conversing with an employee, you need to put an emphasis on their desires, needs and wants instead of talking about yourself. As Robert Breault once said: “Charisma is not just saying hello. It’s dropping what you’re doing to say hello.” Needless to say, this principle can be applied to employee management. If you create a meaningful relationship with an employee (which can be done even without too much fraternizing), you will put much more on the line than just their corporate performance. Failing at their task will also mean letting you down, which is something they will want to avoid at all costs.
As you can see, the advantage of the above-listed five techniques lies in the fact that you can repeat them indefinitely, without diminishing their value or effectiveness in any way. Furthermore, they are known to work regardless of the industry you’re in or the size of your company. In other words, they are as effective for a startup or SMB as they are for a massive conglomerate.