Finding a way to motivate staff isn't the most difficult challenge facing business today--it's how to keep them motivated. Of course, the best employees are those who consistently deliver-both in crisis and in calm. I've found the common spark for these high-performers is an innate thirst to win. What feeds that spark varies. It's personal recognition for almost everyone, professional satisfaction for some and money or other tangible rewards for others.
One of my favorite parts of managing is finding ways to keep enthusiasm high and seeing employees become personally invested in the company so it's not just a job; it's a mission.
1. Inspire Ambition
The right attitude makes all the difference. I firmly believe that even the best performer (as measured on paper) isn't good for the team if he or she has an attitude that brings the rest of the team down.
Encourage your employees to set their own goals and share those goals with the office. At our monthly meetings in the marketing department, each team member declares what he or she is working on and what indicators will determine success for those goals. It's a great way to establish immediate accountability and develop awareness of what everyone else is trying to accomplish. It's also an opportunity for others on the team to weigh in and help. By fostering this group involvement, everyone feels empowered and part of the solution.
You need to make it clear that you value this type of teamwork and innovation for the team to fully embrace it. Don't hold back on encouragement. Everyone needs that kind of positive reinforcement and despite your best efforts, you probably aren't giving enough of it.
I've always tried to create an environment where employees believe in being bold. Being a winner in the office has always meant taking control of one's own career, defining responsibilities and exceeding expectations. That attitude is contagious, especially if it's attached to those in the office who are noticeably high performers.
2. Always Evaluate
Everyone wants feedback. Employees can't be competitive if they don't know where they stand in the office. Tell them. Identify the accomplishments that are catapulting the business forward and demonstrate to each employee how their efforts stack up against the best. The end of each quarter is a great time to measure success and establish new goals, but don't be afraid to over-communicate and let your employees know that you're taking notice of what they're doing. Again, don't hold back on the positive reinforcement.
3. Reward Accordingly
If you want your staff to be continually motivated, you need to invest the time to know what makes your key people tick and reward them accordingly while offering everyone a chance at a more generic reward.
At Angie's List, we have a bonus structure worked into most positions and managers are given freedom to offer spot rewards here and there. We have upward reviews from staff to give managers feedback on where they can improve and annual training to keep that message fresh.
We also reward top 20 percent of employees in each department by getting them out of the office for a fun day-trip. These quarterly trips have included baseball games, water parks and zip lining. It's a team atmosphere where a little business gets done and ideas are shared.
But mostly, it's a day for the senior team to say thank you to those who have moved the company forward the most that quarter.