How to Motivate Employees to Succeed

This guest post is contributed by Melissa Tamura.

Every employer wants to get the most productivity from their employees. If you push too hard, though, you risk making employees unhappy, causing unwelcome turnover and costing you money. So the question remains, how do you motivate your employees to work their best?

Praise

Employers are often amazed how well this one little trick, which costs nothing, can so strongly motivate employee behavior. Bosses often think that their employees are only motivated by money, but the truth is, employees want to like their jobs. They want to like their bosses and the companies for whom they work. This can be a huge leverage for employers, especially in tough economic times when money just isn’t there for performance bonuses.

Every employee performance review should highlight two or three positive aspects of the person’s performance for every negative aspect. Show appreciation for the work the person does for you every day while asking for better performance in certain areas. Don’t make performance review time something to be dreaded, but rather something the employee looks forward to.

Make the employee newsletter a chance to praise and highlight high performing, rank and file employees. Institute “Employee of the Month” or even week programs. Rewards can be as simple as a preferred parking spot, but it’s the recognition that will gain you loyal employees.

Talk to Your Employees

Something as small as time spent with company management can help motivate employees. Have a weekly brown bag session with randomly selected employees. Allow them to give feedback and feel like their voices are heard. Let them ask questions, and answer those questions seriously.

Take time to walk through your production areas, greeting employees and chatting for a moment. If your production is industrial, then do this in the lunchroom. Better yet, eat in the lunch room once or twice a week. Be present to your employees. The more you show that you care for your employees, the more your employees will care about you and your bottom line.

Invest Employees in the Bottom Line

Many companies have a performance bonus plan, but it’s often limited to management. Why not provide performance bonuses to all employees, at least at some level. Employees will be more conscious of the bottom line if they have some stake in the company’s quarterly and annual outcome. Watching waste in the little things can add up to big numbers at the end of the year. Finding ways to streamline production, save steps, or use less can have a big impact. If every employee is invested in finding ways to make the company more profitable, instead of just management, your company can make a big turnaround.

Provide Careers, Not Just a Job

Providing opportunities to grow in their career is a great motivation for many employees. Have plans in place for a career path for your employees. Talk to them about what is required to grow from one level to the next. Help provide training for those who with to move up in the company. Whether it’s sending your assistant to a yearly professional conference or having a tuition reimbursement plan, helping your employees’ careers helps you in the long run.

Remember, employees are not just motivated by money. They spend almost half of their waking time working for you. They want to feel like that time is an investment, not just a necessary evil needed to pay the rent. Employees want to enjoy their work and their work environment. They want to feel good about their work and the company they work for. Filling these needs can go a long way to motivating long term, loyal, and productive employees.