If you are a small business owner or otherwise hold a position of authority, one of your most essential tasks is motivating others to perform the tasks to which they have been assigned. As a boss, you may think that the paychecks you provide should be motivation enough. While it is true that money is a powerful tool, it is not a be all and end all. In fact, with the right motivating factors in place, you can inspire others to perform well with little or no money at all.
1. Bribe Them (Just Kidding!)
Yes, people who are hired to do a job want to be paid as well as possible. It is also true that many people remain in jobs that they hate because of the pay, and that few circumstances are as corrosive to workers as the sense that they are being underpaid. Yet money alone has limits to its power to motivate, and doesn’t really influence job satisfaction. In fact, beyond the funds necessary to provide basic necessities (and maybe some niceties), money rapidly loses its potency as a motivating factor.
Instead, offer rewards or other monetary incentives for very specific achievements or extra work. If you know that an employee has something expensive coming up, like dental work or car repairs, recognize it and offer them the chance to earn more cash or time off.
2. Provide Recognition of Accomplishments
As a child, you may have been taught to say “please” and “thank you.” That home training also serves you well in your adult life. Acknowledging good work or effort above and beyond the norm, preferably in public, can really boost productivity and motivate others. Whether you are a boss or a volunteer coordinator, saying “thank you” demonstrates that you recognize the efforts of your employees or colleagues.
3. Validate of Individual Work and Learning Styles
Introverts favor projects while they can work solo, while extroverts crave collaboration. Some people learn by doing; others prefer written or visual instruction. Taking the time to discover how people prefer to work and learn – and providing validation for their preferences is a potent means of motivation. Research shows that people who enjoy what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, will “proactively change their work environment” to continue enjoying it–no work on your part! (SagePub)
4. High-Touch Coaching and Mentoring
Everyone wants to feel as though he or she provides important contributions to a workplace, team or organization. Providing one-on-one guidance and mentoring is a powerful means of providing validation. Coaching and mentoring people lets them know that are worth the investment of one of the most valued resources – another person’s time.
5. Provide Necessary Resources and Equipment
It’s one thing if you are operating a startup or a charity on a shoestring budget. In such cases nearly everyone understands the need for the MacGyver approach to doing more with less. But if you have a corner office with a wet bar while everyone else scrounges for staplers, you will soon have a morale problem on your hands, not to mention totally UN-motivated workers or volunteers.
Spread the wealth. If you regularly put others’ needs before your own, they’ll soon follow suit.
6. Designate Autonomy and Responsibility
Mentoring and personal attention can make people bloom. And if someone is visibly struggling, of course, you should lend a hand. But if you assign someone with a task that he or she is capable of handling, back off. Likewise, if you have charged someone with the responsibility of ensuring that a project is completed, ensure that he or she has the necessary autonomy and authority to actually get it done. Very few circumstances kill motivation quicker than needless micromanagement, as research from Motivation and Emotion shows.
7. Don’t Cancel the Birthday Parties
At the height of the financial crisis, many companies cancelled their holiday parties and made drastic cutbacks in other “non-essential” areas. While these actions may have been financially necessary, they also frequently killed motivation. Human beings are social animals – providing opportunities to socialize with one another can create camaraderie that in turn generates motivation.
Watch a few episodes of The Office. Office parties, birthday shindigs, holiday celebrations… And happy employees.
8. Inspire Personal Investment
Another potent motivator, especially in the workplace, is to invest in employees. Allow them to attend seminars or training sessions. If the company budget will allow it, provide them with perks such as company cars or laptops. The money you spend on education and equipment will more than repay itself in well-trained, motivated workers.
9. Document Progress and Achievements
If you are launching a long-term project, it is easy to become bogged down and discouraged. One way to maintain motivation among everyone involved is to provide periodic progress reports. Letting people see that their efforts are actually having results can motivate them to keep plugging away.
10. Project a Laid Back Vibe
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer created a firestorm with her pronouncement that employees who had previously been allowed to work from home would be forced to work on-site – or lose their jobs. While it is true that camaraderie is built from face-to-face interactions, enforcing a rigid schedule on employees breeds resentment – especially if higher ups are allowed to come and go seemingly as they please. Likewise, as long as personal hygiene is maintained and clothing is within the bounds of decency and good taste, allowing people to dress as they wish whenever possible can keep employees happy.
The research on flex working is staggering, and it’s now common knowledge that working from home often saves worker’s money, time, and boosts productivity. When recognizing individual working styles, you may find that some workers are so introverted that they might as well be at home anyways. Keep this in mind, and try letting employees work from home every Friday if the work allows.