"You can catch more flies with honey..." Yeah, I know. The same clich gets old when trying to motivate employees. While there are many tried-and-true methods of motivating employees to work harder, I like to think outside the box. A paid performance bonus is easy, but money is a short-term motivator. Here are some better ways to improve long-term morale--and they'll deliver big performance gains when utilized together.
1. Work on Your Communication
If the scope of your interaction with employees is a memo, a signature on an email, or the occasional cubicle fly-by, what motivation does your team have to work harder to meet goals?
It's even worse when responses to email and messages go for extended periods without a response.
You can't expect your team to work harder when your own communication process slows everything down.
The importance of communication is too often overlooked in the workplace. Follow up on every email you receive, even if it's just to let someone know you received it. Communicate with your staff frequently, and do it face-to-face. This tells every employee--loud and clear--that you appreciate the work they do, and that you value them.
2. Set an Example
Good moods are infectious in the workplace, much in the same way that one person can be a poison pill and drive morale into the ground. You certainly can't expect your employees to work harder or think positively if you don't hold the torch to champion that kind of environment.
Show your excitement about company goals. Show up to the office on time, leave on time, and your employees will get on board to work right alongside you to hit the goals.
3. Empower Your People
Every employee in your business has some idea about how something can be done better. Unfortunately, many keep it to themselves for fear that their ideas won't be well-received.
Give your team more say in how they do their jobs. Ask for their input, their suggestions, and their ideas. Then, talk to them about how to improve performance and operations.
But don't just ask. If you want a system like this to be effective, you have to take their advice and then implement it. If you can't for whatever reason, then give them the tools to take ownership of those new ideas and execute them. Give them the authority to make their own decisions, minimize your micromanagement, and watch them explode with activity.
4. Provide Room to Grow
Most employees will work harder if they know they're working towards a goal, especially a personal one. When employees feel there is no room for advancement, then they don't have a whole lot to work for. Who wants to sit in a dead-end job?
You can motivate employees by offering training that gives them everything they need to climb the career ladder. They may take that training somewhere else 5 or 10 years down the road, but it will still bring you tremendous value right now. You're gaining from their education while simultaneously building a reputation as a fantastic place to work.
5. Offer Incentives
Incentives are a proven motivational tool, but they should never be the only motivational tool. When paired with an overarching employee-centered corporate culture, incentives can do a lot to motivate your team. And they don't have to be expensive!
Great options for performance incentives can be movie tickets, dinner gift cards, additional paid time off, or a company-paid lunch. Just make sure that every employee has equal ability to earn the same rewards so the entire team is motivated to seek out incentives. Motivation plays a key role in keeping your best employees, and inspires other employees to step up their game. If you're not consistently involved in employee motivation and morale boosting, then you'll experience a high rate of turnover as those employees seek out better positions.
What's your favorite way to motivate and rally your team? Share in the comments below!