The Right Way, and The Wrong Way, to Motivate Employees


Businesses that fail to move forward ultimately fail. Without progress, productivity, and power packed into every workday, no matter what else a company has going for it, success will prove elusive. The best way to ensure a sustained momentum in your organization is to motivate your employees to press harder toward excellence.

What Can Employee Motivation Do for You?

Employee motivation can be one of the easiest-to-overlook yet surefire methods of seeing goals are met. But many employers continue to struggle with one simple fact: there is a right way to motivate. Leaders who strive for success should learn the difference between the right and wrong way – and become the very best at motivating their team.

Employees who are motivated tend to:

  • stay longer in their position,
  • work harder (and smarter),
  • increase efficiency
  • motivate others.

It is also true that those who feel less enthusiastic about their work can affect the morale and mood around them. This inevitably decreases productivity, causes strife among the team instead of a combined vision, and stifles creativity. Knowing the right way to motivate each of your employees can create a ripple effect of loyalty and a sense of interconnectivity to the company vision.

Motivation 101

If there were an introductory class for how to successfully motivate employees, it would have to be called ‘Back to Basics’. There are some tried and true ways to keep a happy group of workers, to increase employee retention, and to ensure job satisfaction.

  • Honor Individuality: When we treat people like they are all the same, we miss the unique talents they bring to the job. This leads to missed opportunities and a sense of disconnect between the employees and the vision of the company. Look at your team. Get to know them for who they are, what strengths make them invaluable, and then let them know how necessary they are to the success of the business.
  • Be Kind: Seems easy, right? Being nice to other people, however, seems to be a fading commodity among some companies. When the mindset becomes “do what I say and not what I do…and ignore my unkind behavior,” there is something missing. Resentment grows, frustrations build, and productivity drops. Treating your employees, the way you want to be treated can stop this before it becomes a real problem.
  • Communicate: Even the greatest plans will fail if communication is lacking. Staying in a constant state of conversation with your employees will help motivate them to do their best at all times. Having a sense of what is expected and how essential they are to the overall accomplishments of the company can ignite a person’s sense of ownership in the work they are doing.
  • Offer Incentives: Acknowledging the good things a person is doing doesn’t have to include something lavish and expensive. The truth is, many people just want to know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed. For example, many employees find satisfaction when offered incentives such as an award or corporate gift that highlights a particular skill or a trophy that trumpets an accomplishment.

Good Motivation Gone Bad

While there are many ways in which attempts to motivate can fall flat – or even cause irreparable damage – the biggest mistake a supervisor can make is by having the wrong attitude when approaching their team. If you are a leader and wondering why your employees seem less than enthused to do their best, consider your management style. Do you:

  • Lead through fear instead of example?
  • Focus on the negatives?
  • Act closed-off from other perspectives?
  • React to problems rather than leading proactively?

If you find any of these approaches familiar, perhaps it is time to reevaluate the way you treat the people who carry out the vision and drive of your company. Their presence in your business is essential – and your job is to help them realize their value.

The bottom line is, as a leader you have the opportunity to motivate your employees to either strive for an increasing level of excellence or to find another job and leave your company with a position to be filled. Be creative. Be willing to change if needed. And be amazed at the ways your team grows.

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