Michael Scott - Motivational GuruOne of the biggest challenges every manager or boss faces is how to motivate employees. From winter weariness to summer ennui, from staff shortages to staff surpluses, managers will be forced to energize staff members year-round, day in and day out. While the war to inspire and drive employees will never truly end, you can win a lot of battles if you deploy the nine tips offered below. As you do, however, keep in mind that rather than imposing motivation from the outside by stick or by carrot, the best way to motivate staff members is to awaken each individual’s inner desire to do their job well, be appreciated, and be rewarded for their efforts.

1. Create a Sense of Mission

If your company already has a mission statement, dust it off and revisit it. Does it still express the “reason for being” that drives your business? Does it reflect your values? If not, maybe it’s time for a mission statement makeover. If you don’t have a mission statement, you’ll need to put one together. It should tell the fundamental story of your company. It should also be on public display somewhere in the workplace. Once you’ve got your shiny new mission statement taped up above the water cooler, review it with individual staff members and make sure they understand and internalize it. After all, without passionate and well-informed missionaries to deliver the message, there’s really no mission!

2.  Set Common Goals

While your mission statement will identify your company’s overall story and message, setting common goals will help employees direct that story and message toward achieving specific results. Whether it’s sales figures, productivity markers, or the completion of certain large projects, letting your staff know what they’re working toward, collectively, will help them focus and produce.

3.  Set Individual Goals

Just as important to employee motivation as company-wide goals are individual goals. As a manager, you should regularly meet with each staff member to arrive at a set of achievable individual goals. These goals will not only guide each employee’s output and work habits, but they will give both of you concrete and agreed-upon markers by which to measure success.

4.  Competitiveness

Appealing to your staff’s innate sense of competition by introducing contests and bonuses for enhanced performance is a great idea. Just don’t let competitiveness tip over into the kind of cutthroat behavior that can poison the workplace and have a negative impact on motivation.

5.  Collaboration

On the flip side, encourage staff members to work together to achieve greater productivity. While some of your employees will enjoy going head-to-head, others will thrive when working closely with others. Finding this right balance of competition and collaboration is critical to achieving maximum motivation, and requires that you really know your staff on an individual basis.

6.  Gifts, Prizes, Contests

While it’s true that your employees will and should be motivated by their salary, if you really want to get them excited, consider running a sales or productivity contest; or, even better, surprise them with gifts and/or bonuses when they go above and beyond the call of duty. By being recognized and rewarded for the extra effort, they’ll not only have the instant gratification of a gift card or cash bonus, they’ll realize that you notice and appreciate it when they go all out for you.

7.  Invest in Your Staff

Sponsoring and encouraging staff to attend enrichment seminars and supplemental training shows them that you’re invested in them both as employees and people. By adding new skills and knowledge to their repertoire, they’re more valuable to you and they become empowered.

8.  Lighten Up

Take a page out of Michael Scott’s (from The Office) book and crack a joke once in a while with your staff (just not, like him, too many!). A grim, rigidly hierarchical workplace is not a highly motivated one, since employees will approach their work with all the enthusiasm of a rock-breaking chain gang on a hot summer day. Get them smiling and you might just find them working harder, too.

9.  Show You Care

Demonstrating genuine interest in the well-being of your staff may be the single most effective way of motivating your employees. But it has to be genuine. Show them you care by asking about their health, their families, their hobbies, and you’ll win their affection and loyalty. After all, motivating staff is also about being a good and kind leader that people respect and want to follow.

For more information on workforce management and other employment-related issues, please contact the staffing experts at Masiello.