Employee Motivation: It?s More Than A Paycheck

Managers often ask, usually with exasperation, "How can I keep my employees motivated? I pay them decently. What else is there?"

Offering competitive salaries is certainly important. But a paycheck is what helps people get to sleep at night, not what gets them going in the morning.

What keeps them committed to come in on the weekend or stay late or go that extra mile is more than money ? it's the day-to-day 'stuff' like respect, fairness, recognition and feeling in control of their small piece of the world. Here are 10 powerful ways to gain employee's cooperation and commitment to the team, department or organization.

Don't play favorites.
People make judgments about what they see in the workplace. Are promotions fair? Is low performance dealt with quickly? Is their equal treatment for the top floor as well as the shop floor? If the answer is no in their eyes (regardless of the 'truth' of the matter ? it's their perspective) then this perceived unfairness will stand in the way of their giving of themselves fully to the job or project.

Share the limelight.
When credit and compliments come your way, spread them around to all who helped. And if you think you're solely responsible for that honored achievement, think again.

Don't kill the messenger.
When things go wrong, resist the urge to throw a temper tantrum, point fingers or assign blame. In most cases, it's the system ? the processes, procedures and policies- that usually fails, not the people. Most times, people are just carrying out their job the way it was set up to be done. So fix the system, not blame the people.

Meet them on their turf.
While you may be more comfortable meeting with staff in your office, it's more valuable to meet occasionally where they are located. Leadership is not about your comfort, but that of your people. The symbolic value of seeing you mingling with the troops improves trust. General Patton used this effectively and won many a battle by the loyalty his troops had for him.

Break bread together.
Have an informal breakfast or lunch once a month with a group of workers to find out what's on their mind. Or grab something at the cafeteria, plop yourself down at a table and say: "So, how are things going in your area?" While you may hear some groaning, you will also hear about frustrations that are hindering performance. Listen, acknowledge and then do something about these glitches. Acting on problems goes a long way.

Follow-through.
Effective managers remember the promises they make, take the appropriate course of action, and let their staff know what's been done. If you tell Mary that you are going to check on something for her, do it. And if you don't intend to do something, never say you will. Your credibility will go down each time people's expectations are unmet.

Encourage a verbal suggestion box.
Ask everyone to come to the next meeting with two questions or two improvement ideas. This opens up two-way communication real quickly. Listen intently, clarify and then follow-up each question or idea. If you maximize employee input, you will get a more productive and committed workforce.

Communicate the good, the bad, and even the so, so.
When you're on an airplane and it encounters turbulence or the flight is delayed, you want to know what's going on. Not knowing makes you nervous. Employees also want to know what's going ? what's causing the bumpy ride. If people don't understand, anxiety mounts, trust declines, rumors fly and motivation is shot to heck. The next thing you see is morale plummeting and work not getting done.

Catch people doing something right.
Sincere appreciation is powerful stuff - it's feedback, recognition, and respect all wrapped in one. If the little things are done right, then big results will follow. There are ways to say thanks, great job or way to go without breaking the bank.

Use two powerful words- Thank You.
You would be surprised how many people feel that are not appreciated because they rarely hear a 'thank you' from customers, co-workers, or their manager. Saying thanks has become a lost art in the frenetic world of '24/7.' It's a morale booster that costs nothing but goes a long way in helping people put forth more effort.

Clearly managers today play a critical role in not only motivating but retaining valuable employees. If someone is riding in a canoe, but feels being taken for granted, he can't be counted on to paddle with all heart. However, if workers feel good about themselves, the work they do, and who they work for, it is much easier to gain their cooperation and commitment

Marcia Zidle, the 'people smarts' coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job ­ to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management. Subscribe by going to http://leadershiphooks.com/ and get the bonus report "61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers". Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks ­ resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs ­ fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.

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