15 SEP, 2016

4 Ways For Managers to Motivate Employees

employees motivated and clapping

Nike’s famous “Just do it!” slogan may be what managers occasionally want to say to employees, but unfortunately, that doesn’t work well if you want an engaged workforce. But what should a manager do instead?

Not every manager is born knowing how to motivate employees. In fact, many of them have no idea where to begin. An ability to motivate others takes practice, which is why you need to train managers on how they can motivate employees to perform to your company’s standards.

Start with these four steps:

  • Lead by example. Are managers within the organization observing and experiencing positive techniques needed to motivate employees? A study done earlier this year by Vanderbilt University found that “Middle managers’ treatment of employees reflects how bosses treat them,” says Ray Friedman, Professor of Management at Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management. It is fundamental that mid-level managers see effective management techniques from senior leadership within the organization.
  • Provide tools and resources. If you don’t provide tools, resources, and a system for managers to use when motivating employees, their methods may not fit your company culture and can create inconsistencies across your organization. Make sure the method you provide aligns with your culture, values, and the environment you want to create. Topics you’ll want to include are communication techniques, leadership style, recognition, and coaching skills. And the tools you offer don’t need to be complex—just provide a basic framework that gives managers ideas for what they can use to inspire and motivate their team members.
  • Collect feedback. During one-on-one meetings or via employee satisfaction surveys, ask for feedback about how employees are—or aren’t—motivated by their managers. If you don’t hear about a manager’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to motivating employees, you can’t provide coaching or additional training.
  • Confirm understanding. Make it a regular practice to discuss motivation with your management team. Ask behavioral questions that allow managers to demonstrate they understand what they’ve learned about motivation. For example, “Tell me about a time when one of the employees on your team wasn’t contributing their work on time and didn’t seem motivated. What did you do?” Use these types of questions to discover areas where managers are succeeding, as well as areas where they need improvement when it comes to motivating their employees.

Motivating employees isn’t just about money. Actually, employee engagement requires much more than a salary increase or a stellar bonus package. There are many ways to successfully motivate employees, but a manager’s approach to motivation must be grounded in an understanding and desire to focus on employees as people with distinct desires and needs.

As you examine how managers motivate employees in your organization, be sure that you’re hiring managers with an aptitude for working well with others rather than simply promoting skilled workers. When you do, it’s more likely those managers will motivate, inspire, and express their appreciation to their employees in a way that motivates your workforce to deliver results.


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