8 ways to improve and boost employee motivation and performance

Emily Ross of SmartCompany – a news, information and resource site for entrepreneurs, small and medium business owners and business managers, discusses 8 ways to improve and boost employee motivation and performance.

If you asked your staff, “What do you need right now that would make you perform better at work?” what would they say?

Here’s some advice from a range of experts in the trenches.

1. Get creative about incentives, bonuses and perks
One way to tackle the problem is to eliminate factors that are stressing staff out to help them focus on the job. In the UK, utilities company E.on has just won the Grand Prix at the 2011 Employee Benefits Award for its program to help staff get out of debt and save for retirement.

2. Get rid of toxic staff
“Think of toxic employees as spreading like cancer,” says chief executive of Reputation.com Michael Fertik. “You can’t let a cancer metastasise due to non-treatment.” A problem employee can cause varying degrees of pain to your company.

3. Avoid patronizing
There is nothing worse than fake praise to disengage staff. Fertik gave his formula for avoiding being that patronizing boss.

  • Talk straight, be open and transparent about your process.
  • Involve people from all parts of the company and from all levels of experience in many or most decisions.
  • Share ownership and credit for success.
  • Be equally clear when people are coming up short.

4. Understand what motivates different generations of staff
In a blog for Harvard Business Review Managing and Motivating Employees in their Twenties, Fertik offered his tips for managing and motivating 20-somethings that include rotating high potentials through different parts of the company. To get the best out of Gen Ys, he suggests managers “teach them how you think”, by taking the time to explain the decision-making process behind the company’s strategy.

5. Make everyone the CEO of something
“The biggest thing for us is giving people responsibility,” says architect Jad Silvester, director of Sydney business Silvester Fuller. “You’ve got to give people the right amount of responsibility so that they feel they can contribute.”

6. Improve all aspects of communication
Communicating a lot and with plenty of depth means asking people to be truthful about whether things are working or not are essential to keeping staff engaged. For Ormond, Founder of Refund Home Loans, it always comes back to telling people what is happening in the business, telling staff what the individual plan is for them in the business.

Try some unusual but effective conversation starters:

  • What is the dumbest thing you are working on?
  • Let’s do a post mortem on that job.
  • Where do you think the company is wasting time and/or money?

7. Remember money isn’t actually such a great motivator after all
In Blessingwhite’s 2011 Employee Engagement Report of more than 11,000 workers around the world, career development, new work opportunities and training turn out to be the big motivators. Dan Pink is adamant that financial rewards are not effective incentives for anything but the most basic tasks. “Money is fine,” says Watkins, “but it doesn’t compensate for someone not being happy and feeling like they are not contributing.”

8. NEVER underestimate the value of positive feedback
It’s not rocket science. Recognise and thank people publicly, privately, personally. Throughout SmartCompany’s LinkedIn mini-poll, we kept hearing the same thing over again. People like hearing two words: “Great job”.

Read the full article here.


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