Your "Motivate and Inspire Action Plan"
As a manager, there’s an art to engaging your staff, motivating them to do their best work and inspiring a genuine commitment to the team and to the workplace. The truth is there’s no “one size fits all” solution because there are so many variables – from the different needs, personalities, circumstances and preferences of each employee to the company culture and the nature of the work itself.
However, the good news is that employee motivation has been researched and studied by countless experts and there’s a great deal of information available. To help you come up with a customized “Motivate and Inspire Action Plan” of your own, I’ve developed this list of 11 key strategies, practices and approaches.
Recognition and appreciation
1. Celebrate success: when your team achieves a significant goal, be there to recognize and celebrate with them. Whether it’s a small celebration in the break room with coffee and donuts, or a company-wide gala event, complete with champagne, balloons and awards, recognizing achievements feels good and is good for morale.
2. Recognize progress towards goals, not only the actual achievements themselves: some goals are so ambitious, or so huge, that they seem out of reach. Some goals take a long time to achieve and people can get discouraged. So you may want to make a point of acknowledging the hard work to date, and the progress that the team is making towards a goal.
3. Reward positive performance: when an employee stands out from the crowd by putting in extra effort, helping colleagues without being asked, being consistently upbeat in trying circumstances, or otherwise showing exemplary behaviour, be sure to thank them and reward them – remembering that a reward doesn’t have to be monetary.
4. Recognize individual achievements publicly or privately: be aware that not everyone is comfortable in the spotlight. There are various reasons why someone may prefer private acknowledgement while others really enjoy being publicly recognized – the best recognition takes into consideration the preference of the individual.
5. Listen to suggestions: often, the front-line staff are closer to the customer, client, or end-user and they may have some excellent solutions for problems, or innovative ideas for processes, products, techniques or services. By listening to suggestions, you open your eyes to new ideas, plus you show respect for your employee’s knowledge – and that can be highly motivating. In contrast, constantly having ideas dismissed or disregarded can lead to disengagement.
6. Establish clear boundaries about where change can or cannot happen: it’s great to be open to suggestions, and you also need to be clear with staff about what is possible. For example, it would be both dishonest and demotivating to open up a discussion about switching over to flex-time, if you know this is absolutely out of the question.
Clarity about Roles, Responsibilities (and Advancement Potential)
Often, there are aspects of the work itself that can be motivating, especially when people are in roles that are well-suited to their talents, skills, values, and aspirations. As a manager, you can enhance that motivation by creating a workplace where people are clear about why they are there, and where they feel there is a future for them.
7. Establish and communicate clear goals and responsibilities: when each person on the team is clear about what they are expected to achieve, they know where to focus their efforts. Additionally, having the resources available to support their success is a must.
8. Work with staff to create action plans to achieve key goals: giving each person the opportunity to have input into their own goal-setting also gives them ownership of the goals and greater motivation to take responsibility for their own success.
9. Look to the future with regular discussions about career development: with skills shortages looming in many industries, building capacity through your existing staff makes sense. When you have great employees, consider providing regular opportunities for professional development so that you’ll be able to promote from within. Recent research shows that 78% of people are motivated to stay longer with an employer when they see potential for career development.
Addressing Performance Issues
Sometimes, managers hesitate to address performance issues because they are not sure what to say, or how to say it. Not only is this counter-productive in terms of the under-performing employee, it’s also discouraging and demotivating for the employees who are performing well, and who may be taking up the slack for their colleague.
10. Diagnose and document performance problems: in order to give constructive feedback, you need to have specific information about the employee’s performance – so it’s good practice to keep notes on everyone’s performance – both positive and negative. Also, when things go wrong, it’s important to be sure of the reason – so analyze the problem. Is it in fact the employee’s performance that’s at fault, or does the cause lie in a faulty process, miscommunication of expectations, or some other factor?
11. Give open and honest feedback: helpful feedback is given with the goal of supporting the employee to improve their performance, when they have been falling short of expectations. The feedback should be coupled with a plan for concrete improvements in performance. This can indeed be a challenging conversation. However it is a vital part of your role as a manager. If you feel a lack of confidence in giving this type of feedback, consider investing in training and development for yourself. The skills needed to handle difficult conversations such as these are often best developed through one-on-one coaching.
If you’re looking to develop or fine-tune your skills in motivating employees, or to create a customized “Motivate and Inspire Action Plan” I’d be happy to talk with you about the various assessment tools, training, and coaching programs that I offer. Book a no-cost, no-obligation Strategy Session with me here.