The most important asset contributing to a company’s productivity is the energy and efficacy of its employees. More than financial figures or public-image potency, employee productivity is crucial. The importance of keeping your workers focused and dedicated can’t be emphasized enough — so how are you, as an employer, able to motivate your employees? The key element to remember is the idea that happy employees are motivated employees. You don’t need to throw money at people to motivate them; in fact, there are far more powerful inducements in the workplace.
Recognize and utilize individual strengths
Pay attention to your employees’ work, and note the areas where individuals tend to shine. Perhaps you have a writer on your team, or a creative thinker, or an organizer. Note the specific areas where people stand out, and put those skills to good use with individual assignments. Your employees will know that you have paid attention to their work and feel encouraged to take pride in that recognized work. Targeting their individual skill sets tends to increase their satisfaction in the work they’re doing — and from your standpoint, it’s just good business sense to maximize the “resources” you identify among your team members.
Natural leadership is one of the assets you should assess among your employees; do you have a worker who tends to rally the team, keep meetings or projects on track, or focus problem solving in the group? All too often, people who display leadership skills are promoted out of the jobs where they shone and into “management” positions. Consider, instead, how you could harness a natural leader’s talents without removing that individual from the job in which they perform so well. A “peer leader” (as opposed to a manager”) can strengthen a team from within rather than from above.
Positive interpersonal interactions
Never underestimate the power of a smile, a personable conversation, or a sincere compliment. People who feel valued and appreciated, and who know that their good work doesn’t go unnoticed, will continue to take pride in their work and do it well. Pleasant behavior can “go viral,” spreading through an office or work environment; a person who has just been complimented may walk away smiling and say something pleasant to another person. Be aware that negativity can go viral just as easily, and have devastating effects on workers’ morale.
Compliments on an employee’s work should be specific and individual. A blanket statement such as, “Good job, everyone,” does not tell individuals that their contribution has been noted or appreciated. Additionally, if someone in the group has not contributed significantly, such a sweeping statement can actually foster resentment among those who did work hard on a project, and see the non-contributor equally recognized. Generally speaking, workers are more likely to remain devoted to a job — even with lower pay — where they feel valued rather than in an environment where they feel their work isn’t appreciated, even with higher pay.
Foster a sense of pride and ownership in employees
When your employees become personally invested in a project or product, they will be more motivated to give it their best effort. Share goals and outcomes with your team members — let them see the “big picture” and the results of their work. When you make the work meaningful to them, they’ll be more satisfied doing it.
Consider also the possibility of allowing some latitude in the execution of a project. Presumably, you have hired people who really know what they’re doing, and you may be surprised by the creative ideas they bring to the table. Set up the parameters for a project, clearly communicate your expectations regarding the outcome, and let your team members contribute their own ideas about how that might be achieved. Once again, if they’re personally invested in the process — as well as the outcome — that sense of ownership on their part will benefit you and your company.
Steven R. Brown is the CEO of Johnston, Iowa–based Quality Communication Solutions. This article was provided by and is reprinted with the permission of Liverpool–based Contemporary Personnel Staffing, Inc.