Happy employees are productive ones. In fact, if you've ever had the displeasure of managing disgruntled staff, you know it's a situation to be avoided at all costs. Not only does unhappiness at work distract people from getting things done, it demotivates them--and everyone within their sphere of influence--from doing good work. If not everyone on your team is excited to come to the office every day it's time to look at what you might be doing wrong. That's according to Joshua Dorkin, CEO of BiggerPockets, an online real estate investing social network with more than 250,000 members, 800,000 unique monthly visitors and nearly 42,000 subscribers to its real estate podcast on iTunes. Dorkin says in the 10 years his company has been around he has learned a thing or two about keeping his team happy. Here's his advice.

1. Find out what motivates employees and incentivize them appropriately.

Whether it's bonuses, the freedom to work from home or free lunches, take the time to learn what really drives each employee on your team. "What gets them excited? What will make them happy? What will make the work environment better for them?" he suggests asking.

2. Communicate clear expectations and directions.

Disharmony can result if people don't fully understand their roles, or if their job functions overlap with someone else's. "You need to make sure that the expectations for each person are clearly written out and they know what they're supposed to be doing and what you expect of them," he says. "It just makes life a lot easier."

3. Avoid micromanaging at all costs.

No one enjoys having someone else's hands and eyes all over their work. And it's not good for bosses either, who aren't focusing on their own tasks. "You want to empower your team to be successful and give them the tools to make it happen," he says.

4. Do what you say you're going do.

It's a matter of leading by example and keeping your promises. "Don't bitch and moan about people showing up late to meetings and then you show up late to meetings," he says. Or, don't say you're going to implement a new policy that gives everyone an extra day off every quarter and then not make it happen. "If you don't live up to that they're not going to take you seriously the next time you actually say something that you mean."

5. Give them a chance to be entrepreneurial within your company.

Help them get excited about something within the business and watch it grow. "People like taking ownership," he says. "If they have cool projects that they're excited about they can share [it] with their teammates and their friends and celebrate their own little venture within your company."

6. Give them rain days off to do cool things.

BiggerPockets is based in Colorado, so Dorkin took recent beautiful weather there as a cue to give everyone in the office a day off to go skiing or trail running. "It was a chance to give them a breather, a paid break, and I think they were very happy about it," he says. "Just the little things that please people."

7. Listen to their concerns and value their input.

If someone isn't happy, find out why and what you can do about it. "One negative teammate can really sink the whole ship," he says. "I make it my mission to check in with everybody at least a couple times a week to just see how they're doing, what they've got going on, and how they feel."

8. Give them the toys they need to do their job well.

In other words, don't be stingy. If someone needs a new device or computer, make it happen. "Buy the equipment, buy the software, buy the extra mouse," he says. "Don't be cheap. It's going to make people more productive, so spend the money on it."

9. Let people fail on things that don't matter.

It can be tempting to redirect someone if you see him or her steering in the wrong direction, but on non-critical missions letting a person make mistakes might be the better course for long-term learning. "Failure is a big motivator," he says. "Stopping them midway is psychologically less impactful than making a decision that ends up failing."

10. Thank employees when they do something well.

If someone works hard, stays late or puts in extra effort make sure to acknowledge it. "Human beings like feeling good," he says. "And hearing a 'Thank you' is one of my favorite things."

Published on: Mar 6, 2015