You can walk into some corporate offices or business environments and get the sensation that life is getting sucked out of you. These are offices that lack any energy, camaraderie, motivation, and overall morale. Take a look around your own office. Have you noticed that many employees are calling in sick more often or that several of your workers have started drifting in late or have started taking frequent three-day weekends? If you are starting to get the impression that your employees are working just hard enough to get fired, take a look at the motivation you have been giving them lately. Offices with high employee morale are far more productive and efficient, so maybe it’s time that you start learning how to motivate your employees more effectively.
When do you ask your employees to come into your office for a private meeting? Do you call your employees in only when you want to let them know what they have done wrong with a project or an account? Do your employees cringe when you ask them to come into your office? More than likely, you are offering only negative reinforcement. In other words, your employees are working hard enough just so that you DON’T call them into your office to scold them.
Instead, let your employees know when they have done a good job, even if they worked on a project that might have been simple. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and start commending your employees just for making a fresh pot of coffee or for coming in on time. However, if one of your employees quickly gets your computer ready for a presentation you have the next day, even if it only takes a few hours of their time, let them know you appreciate their hard work and the fact that they put your computer issues in front of their own projects for a few hours. As humans, we wish only to be recognized and appreciated, so start letting your employees know you respect them and their hard work.
Not all of our work in a Fortune 500 company where we can offer our employees huge bonus checks at the end of the year or large Christmas gifts for jobs well done. If your own group of employees is small, take them all out to lunch one day after a large project has been completed on time. Or, maybe you don’t make quite enough to pay for all of your employees? You can buy them bagels one morning or set up a time for your group to have their own celebratory potluck. They will definitely appreciate the recognition.
There is an old saying that an employee will quit on a boss, but they will not quit on a friend. By this, I am not suggesting you become your employee’s best friends or become buddy-buddy with everybody in your office (although there is nothing saying you CAN’T become friends with your employees); rather, I am suggesting you take an interest in the lives of your employees.
Many managers seem to have read the decades-old manager’s handbook that suggest you are above your employees so you should be a little distance from them. This is definitely NOT the kind of air you will want to be putting on for your employees in today’s world. For example, if you hear that your employee’s wife recently became pregnant, congratulate him. If an employee’s father is in the hospital, send flowers or start up an office collection to have flowers sent to him at the hospital. Little things like this will make your employee feel that you truly care for them.
The biggest de-motivator for any employee is a manager who micro-manages. An example of a micro-manager is somebody who, say, watches the door for you to arrive at 8:00 but then makes a big production if you continually stroll in at 8:05. He or she will assign specific break times, specific lunchtimes, and maybe even specific restroom times. A micro-manager, essentially, works on an attitude of distrust. They do not trust that their employees can manage their own time and productivity. If you are a manager like this, you really need to reconsider your approach. Just like you, your employees went through an application and interview process and received a job based on their merits.
Trust your employees to do the jobs that are assigned to them and only interfere when they start taking their job for granted. For example, if they come in two hours late every day and leave an hour early, by all means, talk to them. But do not scold them for coming in 5 minutes late or for taking a lunch break that went over 3 minutes long. Employees want to feel that their managers trust them to do their work.
Trust your employees