Our in-depth guide to managing a healthy, motivated and energetic workforce without breaking the bank
From hitting targets to dealing with clients, managers have a difficult and demanding job at the best of times.
One of a manager’s primary responsibilities — and one of the most frustrating — is continually motivating and energising an ever-evolving workforce. Failing to effectively tackle this crucial element of management can lead to an inefficient team that’s unable, or unwilling, to meet important business targets.
In this white paper we’ll look at how top managers motivate their team, examining a range of tips and techniques aimed at helping you keep healthy, happy and energised employees.
Got to dash?
No problem, here are 5 key snippets from our white paper:
- Understand what demotivates your employees, and make a commitment to removing as many of these elements as possible.
- Keep your expectations of your team, and the promises you make to them, realistic and attainable.
- Recognise team members when they do a good job; small rewards can go a long way.
- Take a personal approach with your employees; ensure they feel they can communicate with you honestly and openly by instigating an “open door” policy.
- Nurture an entrepreneurial atmosphere throughout the business; encourage new ideas, collaborations and open forums where team members can express their creativity.
How can you avoid demotivating your team from the offset?
Efforts to energise your team members can breed resentment and further demotivate your employees if they aren’t implemented properly. To fully engage your team, it’s important you understand why your employees feel demotivated or unappreciated.
Lack of progression and too many promises
A lack of career progression is a common employee complaint and a source of demotivation, especially for those who feel they’re not being recognised. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure suitable applicants are able to move forward professionally, and that those doing a good job do not go unrewarded.
Many managers take the “carrot and stick” approach to their employees, not delivering rewards when they’re warranted or being overly harsh on underperforming team members. This can be an effective way to motivate employees, but it can be a very dangerous technique. Applied incorrectly, this approach can create an unhealthy work atmosphere from which you may not recover.
Setting realistic expectations and attainable goals can keep you from being too tough on your employees. Similarly, be careful of making too many promises when you’re setting goals — particularly if you may find it difficult to keep these promises.
When an employee leaves a company, it’s often thought to be for personal reasons, a better offer elsewhere or because they simply didn’t like their job. Whilst these can be valid assumptions, studies find 75 per cent of people leaving their posts voluntarily quit their bosses, not their jobs.
Poor relationships with colleagues
Team members’ working relationships with their peers can also be a source of demotivation. Managers overlook this at their peril, as poor relationships with colleagues can create an uncomfortable work environment for employees and lead to a complete lack of collaboration and team-oriented engagement. To overcome this, managers should work with HR counterparts to introduce like-minded individuals to the organisation and look for ways to improve team spirit, working environment and staff retention.
Lack of control
It can be tempting to seize control of your employees’ work, but doing so can rob team members of a sense of ownership and leave them demotivated. If you want to keep your team energised and motivated — particularly on larger projects — ensure they feel ownership and control of their output. Relinquishing some elements of control to your employees can have a noticeable and significant impact on their levels of motivation, particularly when they feel they’re being trusted to do their jobs well.
Many under-motivated employees feel unable to communicate with management about both personal issues and work-based issues. Understanding this is crucial when it comes to avoiding a demotivated workforce; a team that doesn’t feel comfortable communicating with management will result in fewer shared ideas, lower levels of collaboration, a more unhappy work environment and less efficient problem solving.
In order to make employees feel they can communicate with management, instigate an open-door policy and ensure that team members are comfortable using it.
You should also ensure that when upper managers are making a decision that affects employees, the employees have a say. Keeping staff members involved in the decision-making process not only makes them feel like they have a voice, but that management is hearing and considering what they have to say. This will help open the doors of communication throughout the business, and will have a wide range of benefits — including improved employee motivation.
Lack of recognition
It’s worth remembering the importance of recognising team-members when they do a good job. In many cases, managers attempt to motivate staff with monetary incentives and large, often unattainable rewards, only to be met with continued demotivation and a frustrating lack of engagement.
When it comes to job satisfaction, studies have shown that culture, community and recognition are actually more important to many employees than continued financial gain. Small rewards and recognition from management can go a long way — often proving more effective in motivating employees than a monetary reward.
87% Motivated by other rewards and incentives
13% Motivated by larger pay
In fact, a 2013 study by the Institute of Leadership & Management showed that only 13 per cent of employees said that the prospect of a payout drove them to work harder.
5 Cost-Effective Ways for Getting Your Team Engaged
How can you engage and motivate staff without breaking the bank?
As Bryan Shinn, CEO of U.S. Silica, notes:
“I try to treat folks as I want to be treated and I think that’s one of the most motivating things to an organisation. No matter where you are in the leadership hierarchy, if you’re just real with people it goes a long way. I also put a lot of effort into recognising the small things — you don’t have to wait until someone has a major accomplishment.”
Jason Rhode, CEO of Cirrus Logic, uses a similar process:
“Morale and motivation in the workplace comes from having a meaningful and worthwhile goal, a reasonable plan to achieve the goal and being able to measure yourself making progress on the plan. In my view, ensuring that we have such a vision, plan and visibility at a corporate and individual level is a tremendously powerful motivator.”
Clearly communicating key responsibilities and accountabilities to your team with help ensure that employees follow your plan. If everyone knows their roles, both within the organisation as a whole and in relation to key performance indicators, they’re far more likely to take responsibility for integral elements of a project and perform to a much higher level.
Mike MacDonald, CEO of Medifast, takes a similar approach:
“The best way to motivate a team is to create a very open work environment where people have the ability to make suggestions and comments. At Medifast, we encourage a leadership style that is highly participative and allows for open communication between all levels of the organisation to accomplish business objectives. We’ve found that when you empower people to do their jobs within their style, they enjoy their work and can achieve their goals.”
Nurturing a culture of innovation within the business can help team members feel that management hears them and is considering their ideas. It also helps employees define their place within the business and feel empowered to approach problems and objectives in an innovative way.
Kevin Thompson, CEO of Solarwinds, has to say:
“We focus on creating an environment where employees have the opportunity to create a unique place within the company — their sweet spot.”
Adopt suitable suggestions and ideas to demonstrate to employees that their ideas are valued and innovations are being considered. Ensuring team members that management is open to change can create a culture of innovation within the business and keep your employees feeling motivated and energised.
Tips for remote employees
How can you energise team members who are not physically based in the office? In the modern business climate, remote workers and out-of-office freelancers are increasingly common, which presents a unique challenge to managers looking to motivate their staff. Here are five key tips to motivating remote employees:
- Conduct regular online meetings to avoid isolation
One of the major issues with remote employees is a feeling of isolation and a relative lack of collaboration/interaction with co-workers. With modern teleconferencing technologies, however, you can conduct regular, scheduled online meetings with remote workers.
- Use videoconferencing technology for face-to-face interaction
While it’s entirely possible to communicate with remote employees via voice or text-based technologies, by utilising videoconferencing technologies you can encourage interaction, strengthen out-of-office workers’ feeling of community and encourage responsibility.
- Get feedback on remote processes and how to improve them
Regularly review your protocols and technologies for remote workers, and encourage feedback in order to improve your remote processes. This will help iron out communication problems with remote workers and ensure you’re keeping up to date with new technologies.
- Ensure remote workers are kept in the loop
It can be easy to overlook out-of-office staff when you’re discussing new developments and opportunities. Make sure they’re kept fully up to date where possible; this encourages remote employees to aim higher and reminds them they are valued members of the team.
- Ensure remote teams have strong team leaders
It’s obviously more difficult to monitor the progress of remote staff, ensure they’re fully motivated and hitting targets. Putting strong team leaders in place to deal with remote workers — and communicating regularly with them — will help you overcome this common challenge.
Andrew Millard, Senior Director of International Marketing at Citrix has been managing a remote team for over 4 years.
“My team are based in Australia, Germany and the UK and to help maintain strong relationships and sustain high morale, we hold occasional on-site meetings and team building events to bring everyone together. Even though we work in different locations and use videoconferencing to meet on a daily basis, we still see a huge value in meeting up and spending time face-to-face. It’s really about getting the right balance.”
Managers in every industry and all corners of the world must work hard to keep their staff motivated and energised.
With the right knowledge and protocols in place, however, you can nurture a culture of innovation and open communication within your team — ensuring your team members feel valued, content and motivated to do the best job they can.
Whether you’re dealing with junior employees, senior team members or remote workers, you can use the same approach to communication, progression, rewards and motivation to deliver a team of people that’s motivated, energised and all pulling in the same direction.