What really motivates employees to perform at their best?

SATISFACTION 031011 What really motivates employees to perform at their best?It might seem like stating the obvious but it’s absolutely true – the way your employees feel about their job and their workplace determines how motivated they are. In other words there is an undoubted link between job satisfaction and productivity.

Sure, job satisfaction depends partly on tangible rewards like how much a person is paid and what benefits they receive.  But job satisfaction also depends on many other factors like the culture of an organisation – the things that make your business distinctive and make the people who work there proud to do so.

So an important part of any manager’s job is to motivate their people and there are a number of ways this can be achieved. For example:-

  • Provide varied and interesting work
  • Provide high-quality training and development and encouragement to study for professional qualifications
  • Provide an ‘open door’ culture in which managers are approachable
  • Provide consistent and genuine leadership
  • Respect the need for a good work-life balance – e.g. offering the opportunity for flexible working wherever possible
  • Ensure fairness at work, including promoting equality and diversity
  • Ensure proactive and regular communication
  • Give regular appraisals and positive feedback – restating business objectives and recognising your staff’s contribution
  • Request feedback, either in person or via staff surveys, on how employees feel about their roles, the support they get, and ideas for improvements to the business
  • Provide the opportunity for staff to socialise with their colleagues at organised events
  • Incorporate recognition and reward for ideas

Before you can create a motivated workforce, however, you need to understand why some staff may lack motivation in the first place.

For example, it could be things like:-

  • Monotonous work
  • High staff turnover
  • Poor workplace atmosphere
  • Lack of recognition for achievements
  • Individuals feeling sidelined or ignored
  • Little opportunity for advancement
  • Poor reward structure

As a leader, you can motivate your workforce by:

  • Demonstrating trust i.e. trust staff to get the job done. Delegating key tasks can empower employees and stimulate innovation, although you will need to ensure that the ultimate business objective is understood.
  • Showing respect – i.e. listen to and act upon what your employees tell you. Be prepared to invest in new equipment or support if they need it to do their job effectively. By responding to their concerns you can demonstrate your trust in their judgement.
  • Giving encouragement – if someone’s standards fall short, don’t criticise, but find out what the problem is and try to get them back on track. Identify if more training is needed. It also helps to offer incentives for achievement.
  • Valuing diversity – what works for motivating one person, may not work for another. Be flexible and use your interpersonal skills to get the best out of different types of employee.
  • Rewarding good performance – set clear objectives and celebrate employee achievement. You could consider offering financial rewards. Any reward should be proportionate to the achievement, and the system should be seen as fair and transparent by all staff.

Most of all though be sympathetic to the needs of your employees. For example, make sure you have appropriate policies for compassionate leave and time off.

We all know that being the ‘perfect’ manager can be a tough call and nobody gets it right every time. But being aware of these types of issues and how to tackle them constructively and appropriately is what all good managers should strive to achieve and part of my mission is to do just that.

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