14 Highly Effective Ways to Motivate Employees

How to Motivate Your Problem People

It’s a glorious image: all your employees marching off in the right direction, inspired by your vision, passion, and logic. The problem is, this leadership approach works only with already motivated people.

Everyone has motivational energy. In fact, most problem employees are driven and commited—but only outside the office. The work-place—seemingly uncaring bosses, especially—can block that inherent motivation.

In trying to motivate problem employees, most managers mistakenly try to “sell” their viewpoint to employees—or simply dismiss them as “bad characters.” These mistakes stem from common but false assumptions: that everyone else thinks like we do, that we can change others, and that employees are problems to be solved.

14 Highly Effective Ways to Motivate Employees

14 Highly Effective Ways to Motivate Employees

Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said about your employees. In a 2015 SHRM Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey, only 69 percent of employees felt they were consistently putting all their effort into their work.

If you’ve tried a variety of incentives but are still seeing the negative side effects of low motivation, you’re not alone. Sometimes even the best managers have to think outside the box to find creative and reliable ways to motivate their employees.

Although we haven’t implemented it yet, we’re developing a feedback system that rewards employees for engaging with our wiki and for learning how to use our application via our training videos. We further reward performance based on meeting certain goals. A proven motivator for students and employees alike is earning a “badge” or points for committing to certain tasks.–Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

If you let them know you trust and depend on them, they will fill those shoes sooner than you think. A vote of confidence can go a long way. Let them know you trust them to do the best job possible and they will rarely disappoint you. Try it.–Ayelet Noff, Blonde 2.0

You want lofty ambitions, but set up smaller goals along the way to keep people in it. Rather than make a billion this year, focus on getting 100 new customers this week-something that will get you to that billion. Then reward the team for achieving the goal with an afternoon off, a party, etc. They will see that your goals are realistic and everyone benefits from working hard.–Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

I am able to motivate my employees by giving them a purpose. When you accomplish that, they understand the vision better and are able to execute more strongly. In addition, by understanding their purpose and the purpose of the business, an employee is better able to understand how they fit into the big picture. –Vlad Moldavskiy, Mabbly, LLC

I’m always pumping energy through the office. I’m really enthusiastic and want my staff to feed off that positive energy. Because culture is so important to me, I play music, have fun, joke around, and play games. We work hard, but we play hard too. You have to be in the moment and high-energy all the time! –Josh York, GYMGUYZ

I am very open with employees about what’s happening at the highest level so there are no surprises and everyone has a chance to ask questions and give feedback. I want employees to feel included in big decisions and committed to the direction our company takes. This has helped to sustain motivation and increased company loyalty and pride.–Martina Welke, Zealyst

Aligned incentives are the only true way to ensure everyone on a team is working toward a common goal. Framing the strategy in multiple ways ensures each stakeholder has a clear, personal understanding of how working together benefits himself and the team. This technique allows you to motivate the team to accomplish amazing things.–Ross Resnick, Roaming Hunger

Ask what they do and don’t like working on, share the big picture company goals, and respond to their questions. Discern their goals and then invest in their professional growth. During one-on-one check-ins, listen to their ideas, because they’re the best at what they do. Respect their personal schedules and non-work time, and don’t ever pit their goals/timelines against each other.–Heather McGough, Lean Startup Company

We developed Valuebot-an app for Slack that calculates how many times each employee was praised-in order to send daily and monthly summaries. Whoever garners the most kudos wins various awards and recognition. Valuebot has helped us to visualize our culture and reiterate how much we support one another. The positive energy we create in the office helps us to attract and retain talent.–Stephen Gill, http://www.50onred.com

We have a few fun incentives, like an in-office “phone booth” style machine that lets you grab dollar bills. It’s a fun little motivator that the sales team uses on a smaller scale. Otherwise, it’s also important to encourage employees to take vacation time. A culture that prioritizes work-life balance, yields increased productivity and overall happiness in the workplace.–Jesse Lipson, Citrix

It’s amazing how a simple “please” and “thank you” fares with employees. We simply speak to staff the way we would want to be spoken to. We also have an open-door policy when it comes to suggestions and ideas. When employees feel that their voice matters, they in turn feel confident about their positions in the company and that they have more at stake than just a paycheck.–Justin Beegel, Infographic World, Inc.

Motivating employees is not just about giving them vacation time-it’s about showing them they make a difference and are valued. Every time we have a meeting, whether large or small, we let a different team member lead the conversation and the topics discussed. Not only can they share their opinions and be heard this way, but they are motivated to make their words and ideas happen afterwards.–Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

Provide Added Perks

Perks don’t always have to be financial in scope. Employees today value a healthy work-life balance and when you make that possible, they’ll find their workdays more enjoyable and rewarding. You could offer flexible schedules or opportunities to work from home one or two days a week. If this isn’t feasible, other viable perks include:

When there’s a strong sense of community at the office, your employees will feel more connected to each other and to the company. Remember: you’re not running an apartment complex where neighbors can go years (or indefinitely) without needing to know each other’s names. You’re running a department or organization where everyone can achieve great things when they all work together.

You can even include remote workers in the community experience thanks to videoconferencing software. Technology is a great teambuilder: you can live in Iceland and ‘attend’ a holiday party in New York.

Give Them Autonomy

Everyone wants to have control over their own work: few things erode a workplace more than micromanagement and helicopter bosses. Unless they’ve given you a valid reason to do otherwise, give your employees the chance to make some decisions regarding how they will accomplish an objective or complete a task.

When you run a company, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. Consequently, you will never see most of what goes on every day. If you’re confident that you’ve got a good team, the biggest compliment you can give them is to empower and trust them to make the right decisions.

Even if an occasional mistake is made, the risk is far outweighed by the benefits. When your employees understand that they are an essential part of the organization’s success, it will motivate them in ways that money cannot.



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