You’ve got a great and capable team. Now ignite their passions and let them show you what they’re capable of.
You may have noticed that a campfire does not light itself. You can set out the wood in a little arrangement of logs and carefully watch it all day and night, but it will not suddenly burst into flames. It has to be lit. Much the same applies to you as a leader of your organization—you have to light the fire with all of the people you interact with. Like it or not, it is part of your responsibility.
Some people have had the experience of working for horrible bosses, and some people have had the experience of working for bosses who changed their life in a positive way. Make sure you are the second kind of boss, the one who changes lives for the better. How do you go about motivating employees and creating a motivational environment? Here are some tips in order to achieve this.
#1—Communicate the plan.
One of the things I find tremendously motivating for employees is for them to actually not be kept in the dark. The biggest complaint we hear from employees at companies is that they don’t know what is going on and no one bothers to tell them. Most employees view this as a form of disrespect, because they do, in fact, need to know what the company is doing and where the company is headed.
#2—What do they want?
Dale Carnegie said it best when he said, “The best way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want.” Here is the big question: what does each individual employee want? The answer is different for each person. Some people may want to move up and be promoted, while others would like to stay in the current job they have. Some people want more intellectual challenge, which for them is a chance to do really exciting work. Some people would like to do the same job every single day and are perfectly happy with doing so. Some people love their jobs, they are great at them, and they can really shine where they are.
If you want to have a team of highly motivated employees, then one of the secret keys is to find out what each one of them wants and start them down that road. Once each person is convinced that they’re are closer to getting what they want, then they will be extremely self-motivated, excited, and fired up. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” That may be true, but in this case when we find out what they want, that convinces them to want to drink on their own.
#3—Individual development plans.
A powerful tool for helping and motivating employees is to develop with them through an individual development plan. The individual development plan is the product of a discussion we’ve previously had with them, where we asked them about their short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, professionally. .
#4—Believe in them.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from employees is that their bosses do not believe in their skills, knowledge, and abilities. Let’s say, for example, that you meet with an employee and have your individual development plan meeting, and the employee tells you they eventually would like to take over the company (after you retire, of course). In some cases you may believe that to be a real possibility, while in other cases you may not. But keep in mind that sometimes your judgment may not be correct. What you should do as a motivational tool is give that person the benefit of the doubt. Believe in them, because that is a motivating thought, when someone knows that you believe in them and their potential.
How do we ensure that each of these folks gets the development they deserve? Once we’ve identified what it is they need to learn, we need to get them the training and development they desire. Yes, we know this is a bigtime resource commitment on your part—we get that. But it is well worth the investment, because when you own and run a company you can’t do everything yourself. You are eventually going to have to rely on others to do things for you. You want to make sure that those other people who are doing things for you are motivated, committed, and loyal.
#5—Rewards and incentives.
One more element of motivating employees is to make sure that they are rewarded and get incentives for performing well. Rewards can take many forms, and one of the forms of rewards is money. Money would obviously include raises and bonuses, as well as other forms of financial reward, including stock options. However, there are many other kinds of rewards and incentives that may not be related directly to money.
We also strongly believe in the power of the compliment, and we’re puzzled as to why so many leaders are reluctant to say thank you and express appreciation to employees for work well done. We often talk to employees who come in early and who are never late, and yet they are never told thank you or receive any appreciation for the hard work that they do. We often wonder if leaders have a budget for “thank yous” (“thank yous” are free). Don’t be stingy with expressing your appreciation. When people feel appreciated, they feel motivated and want to work harder.
You may want to also think about investing in items that are small thank you items, such as $10.00 or $20.00 gift cards to Starbucks or Target, for example. How does this work? When someone does a great job, walk over to them, thank them for their hard work, and hand them a gift card. Although these are low in terms of dollar expense, they have a high perceived value when given as a reward.
So it is up to you to light the fire and to keep it lit. That is what great leaders do.
This article originally appeared in B2B Magazine