In my last article, Can your 2 Year Old Teach You Accountability, I discussed how you can learn accountability and how you can work with your direct reports on it. But, if they are not personally motivated to be accountable, be proactive, and rise to every business challenge, you’re not going to get very far.
There are numerous aspects of motivation, but they can be convened into two main areas to focus on. It’s important to set up a general environment to motivate employees, and have a focus on each person’s specific drivers of motivation.
The best place to start is the general environment, as that will initially give you the most bang for the buck across your company. There are many diverse options to build the type of supportive environment that will grow and support employee motivation, but here are a few ideas that might help:
- Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge
One of the most important areas of driving motivation is acknowledgement. Yes, benefits and compensation go a long way, but they need to be supported by acknowledgement of a job well done. Small wins should get a personal mention… big wins should be more of a company-wide spectacle. Not only will this propel those people in the future, but when others see those acknowledgements, it will motivate them to be in the limelight as well. There are too many ways to accomplish this to mention here, but start with praise in an email, or a pat on the back for the personal and mention the big wins at your department level or company-wide meetings.
- Set SMART Goals
You may have heard of SMART goals before, but despite the mnemonic used, or process used, it’s very important to have your employee’s goals be in the right range between being attainable and challenging them. If you’re outside this range, you’re going to kill their motivation. Too easy, and they feel unchallenged and motivation will ebb. Too challenging and they will feel like a failure and motivation will start to die out as they see they’re unattainable. If you stick to the SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound or Timely) you’ll definitely be on the right track.
- Support Competition
Some managers are wary of competition within their departments or companies… but healthy competition can not only help the bottom line, it can provide quite an environment for motivation. There have been many studies done, and gamification of company processes has been proven to help in innumerable ways. Come up with a desired prize, tie the processes and goals to it, measure progress, and make it fun.
- Setup a project backlog open for anyone
I’m sure you have a few initiatives that may not be central to the forward movement of your business, but may help in numerous ways, or may be something you’ve been thinking about doing for a while now. Start a project backlog, or a bin of projects you would love to have completed. Keep it open across all departments and give people the autonomy to choose a project if they wish to work towards completing it. It’s important that employees don’t get bored with their day to day and a new project that they spend some time on, as long as it doesn’t hinder their job specific duties, may do the trick. You also may get surprised by who shows some new skills, as part of these projects, that can be of benefit for the long haul.
Those few examples will help setting up an environment of motivation, but after that you should also take time to focus on personal motivators.
Each person in your company has their own motivators. It will only serve you and your company in the long run to take the time to keep your eyes and ears open to understand these factors for your employees. This doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them for weeks at a time to understand every nuance… but be aware of how they react in certain situations, what projects and duties light a fire under them, what aspects of their jobs they shy away from, and if they enjoy the limelight or are more of a private person.
Once you have a general idea of each employee’s motivators, you can definitely bucket them in groups across main themes in their motivators. This will help you manage the overall motivation process. Understanding who is in each group will help you with engaging them as a part of the general environment pieces. For example, bring someone who loves the limelight up to the front of a meeting to promote their big win, but send a company email to promote the big win for someone who shys away from the public eye.
Updating your environment and understanding each of your people’s motivators will benefit your revenues, achieve project completion sooner, keep your employees happy, and ultimately achieve success for them and your company.
About: McLean, Koehler, Sparks & Hammond (MKS&H) is a professional service firm with offices in Hunt Valley and Frederick. MKS&H helps owners and organizational leaders become more successful by putting complex financial data into truly meaningful context. But deeper than dollars and data, our focus is on developing an understanding of you, your culture and your business goals. This approach enables our clients to achieve their greatest potential.