Instilling motivation isn't easy, but it's necessary if you want your employees to grow and stay satisfied with their jobs. It's the driving factor that leads people to work harder, meaning more productivity for your organization, and the most important contributing factor to overall satisfaction, which leads to higher employee retention.
That being said, there isn't any single strategy that can magically motivate all your employees at once and keep them motivated throughout their employment. Everyone is unique, with unique values and ideas, and if you want to be successful in instilling company-wide motivation, you have to find multiple strategies to reach each individual.
Here are six motivation secrets that can help you keep your work force happy and driven to succeed.
1. Individual attention matters.
While teamwork is an important element of company success, and grouping your employees together has advantages in building that "team" mentality, nothing beats individual attention when it comes to individual motivation. In large corporations, this is especially true, since employees can feel isolated or unrecognized in a vast sea of workers. Taking a moment to speak to an individual alone and personally can make him or her feel truly appreciated.
The best way to go about this is to offer direct praise when an individual exceeds performance goals or does some exemplary work. Not only does this make the employee feel recognized and appreciated, it also reinforces the positive behavior for the entire workforce. But the importance of individual attention extends beyond simple praise. If someone is underperforming, or is overwhelmed by a specific duty, take him/her aside for some personal coaching or one-on-one talks that can help that employee work through his/her problems. This type of individual attention demonstrates that you care about the individual behind the work as much as the work itself, and that you're willing to take extra steps to make the individual feel comfortable.
2. Advancement opportunities are enticing.
People tend to feel stifled when their job becomes repetitive or stagnant. Going too long in the same position, with no changes or hope for change, will eventually demotivate even the most ambitious employees.
However, if you offer opportunities for advancement and improvement, your employees will be motivated to work harder. As a simple example, promoting from within rather than hiring outside experts can have a profound effect on your company's overall morale. But advancement doesn't always have to come with a raise and a new job title. Offering new training or education opportunities for your employees is also motivating, as is offering new responsibilities to those willing to take them on. Help your employees grow and change in their own ways, and they'll be far more excited about working for you.
3. Leaders set the example.
As a leader within your organization, people are going to look to you to set an example for the rest of the group. You're going to be setting a tone, a work ethic, and a set of values for the company whether you mean to directly or not, and setting the right example can have a meaningful effect on the mentality of your group. For example, if you work hard and stay optimistic about everything, even in the face of enormous challenges, your employees will be likely to do the same. If you set an example of positivity and understanding, your workers will mirror you, and the entire culture of the work environment will become more motivating.
In larger organizations, it's important to convey this idea to all the leaders who work individually with others, especially bosses and supervisors. Having consistent good examples across the board can dramatically alter the landscape of your workplace.
4. Environmental motivators can make or break you.
How you shape your work environment has a major effect on your team's mentality. There's no right or wrong way to go about this, since every company is going to have a different culture, but it is important to include both opportunities to "get away" from the traditional work environment and pieces of color or flair that make the office interesting. For example, some companies have torn down their cubicle walls in an effort to make a more open, team-based workspace. If this is too extreme for your company culture, implementing something simple like a decked-out break room could be just as effective.
Stereotypical motivational posters aren't going to instantly motivate your team every day, but including pictures, quotes, and artwork on the walls of the office can inspire creativity and make the office feel like a much more human, organic place to work. It's much easier to become and stay motivated when you feel comfortable in your workplace.
If you're ever concerned about the effectiveness of your workplace, ask around. Chances are, your employees will tell you directly if they feel like your office is dull or uninspiring.
5. Socialization makes people more committed.
Most people try to separate their personal and professional lives, and it's usually for the best. Trying to make everyone in the office best friends is a bad idea for a number of reasons, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have meaningful conversations outside of a typical work environment. Being friendly with your work force builds bonds and a collective sense of teamwork, and makes work seem less machine-like and more like an organic team effort.
You can prompt people to socialize with each other more by holding team-based events. They can be outside gatherings, like parties or group activities, or something simpler like group lunches at which people are encouraged to let their hair down and talk casually to one another.
6. Transparency is the key to communication.
Creating an environment of transparency, where you speak openly about your business to your employees and they feel comfortable coming to you with anything that's on their minds can do wonders for the collective motivation of your workplace. That's because transparency builds trust; when people understand that you aren't hiding anything, and that you'll listen to anybody, they're far more likely to respect you as an authority and appreciate you as a leader. It also opens inter-departmental channels, giving employees and supervisors greater clarity and more opportunities to openly communicate. Employees are more comfortable bringing up what they like and don't like, and there are more chances to nip potential problems in the bud by calling them out.
Something as simple as an "open door policy" will, over time, make people feel more appreciated, more heard, and more valued. It also opens new lines of communication, and can improve your performance as a team.
People are unique and unpredictable, with individual desires and complicated ideals. No matter how perfectly it all plays out in your head, no single strategy can ever hope to please all your workers all at once. As you work to find the best motivators for your team, remember that you're going to need to make adjustments and changes as you discover what works and what doesn't. Perfect your motivation strategy as you get to know the individuals in your company, and they'll reward you with greater dedication and a confident vision for the future.