about your employees' strengths! Most managers worry about
what their people are doing wrong. A natural concern,
but it kicks off a demotivating spiral. To build motivation,
remind yourself what each employee's greatest strength is.
2. Don't use motivation methods that don't work. When
you keep telling employees what to do and they keep messing
up, who's being stupid? Some might say doing the same thing
over and over, when it obviously doesn't work, isn't too sharp.
Yet we often do just that, trying the same supervisory behaviors
over and over and getting more and more frustrated when they
3. Re-calibrate your motivation scale. We routinely
accept mediocre motivation at work, forgetting that everyone
is capable of high motivation levels. By looking at non-traditional
benchmarks, we can re-calibrate our sense of what truly high
motivation is. Sharing this realization throughout the organization
helps create a vision of motivation for everyone to pursue.
How? Ask employees and managers for examples of exceptional
motivation. Seek out and share stories of exceptionally motivated
explorers, athletes, musicians, artists, volunteers, inventors
and entrepreneurs. Find out what activities or pursuits have
created maximum motivation in the past for employees.
4. Teach employees to measure their own success. Employees
who keep track of their performances are able to notice and
document their development. They create their own scoreboards
and are able to track their wins more effectively than any manager.
How? Every performance goal can be reduced to a simple, easy-to-track
measurement. If the goal is not inherently quantitative, create
a judgment scale to rate performance against. Today, only employees
operating machinery in quality- oriented factories track their
own performances routinely. Tomorrow, every employee should
be measuring their own success.
5. Measure and track motivation levels. How can you
manage something you don't measure? Yet most organizations and
managers have no idea how motivated their people really are.
The typical employee satisfaction poll does not measure motivation.
If you start to measure motivation, you can realistically
expect to learn how to manage it. Without good measures, you'll
never get any better at managing it.
How? Use a simple, repeatable instrument such as the Job Motivation
Level (JML). Take periodic measures of overall employee motivation.
And encourage supervisors to track motivation within their own
spans of control on a routine basis.
6. Ask employees what they want. Employees are motivated
by...what motivates them! Employees have different goals and
desires, and therefore need different performance and development
opportunities. You can't motivate individuals with generic programs.
To maximize motivation ask each employee what turns them on.
Learn to recognize and eliminate threats. Employees often
feel that their managers use threats to try to motivate them,
yet managers routinely deny it. They don't mean to threaten
employees, but if that's how it feels to the employee, then
it is a threat and it's damaging to motivation levels. So managers
need to learn to recognize the things that employees see as
threats and work on eliminating or reframing them. Opportunity
is an effective motivator. Fear is not.
Stop Distracting Employees. Most employees want nothing
more than to focus on doing their jobs better and better.
But from their perspective, critical incidents distract them,
leading to worries about communication, security, fairness,
respect and other
key job criteria that managers rarely recognize. If you first
take care of employ- ees' most fundamental intangible requirements,
you can then shift the focus from their concerns to your motivation
and performance agenda.
How? Ask employees what bothers or worries them about their
work and workplace.
9. Communicate! Open communication is most employees'
#1 priority. And the majority of employees say their managers
don't communicate openly with them. But a majority of managers
say they do. Who's right? Wrong question. If employees feel
you are withholding information they need about their work or
workplace, they will lose motivation and develop resistance
to your management. Time to communicate more openly.
How? Since employees and managers generally see this issue
differently, the simplest fix is to ask employees what they
want to know. Ask them one-on-one, by e- mail, in meetings.
Give employees at least one chance a week to ask you for information.
And then give them the information.
10. Ask employees for information about their performance.
This method turns on the power of informative feedback, which
is information about how you are doing. The more information,
the more intrinsic motivation. So good managers try to offer
informative feedback. But do you always know the details? Probably
not. So instead of telling them, ask them for information about
11. Explain your reward systems. Arbitrary rewards generate
cynicism, not motivation. Employees feel their managers don't
respect them when a new program is announced out of the blue.
They complain that the employer treats them like children. Show
your respect for employees and appreciate their need to know
by informing them fully about any new rewards.
12. Carry an idea notebook. What do employees think?
Do they have any good ideas? Who cares! At least, that's the
attitude many employees assume their managers take. Yet most
managers wish employees would share more of their ideas and
insights. They just aren't very good at asking. They tend to
interrupt or overrule ideas without really meaning to, accidentally
discouraging the very behaviors they desire.
How? A simple way to overcome this common problem is
to carry a blank notebook reserved for recording employee ideas.
Managers who make a practice of collecting at least a page of
ideas each day become great listeners overnight, and their employees
suddenly seem to be full of ideas.