Maintaining a motivated staff is essential for productivity, limiting turnover, and meeting goals – goals that managers themselves must answer for. A manager’s responsibility of keeping a team motivated can range from maintaining focus to simply making sure employees arrive on time. Managers, especially new managers, sometimes struggle to maintain employee motivation. And, not only do they approach motivation differently, but workers respond to efforts differently as well, making it even more challenging.
To help, we’ve assembled our top motivating principles for managers, along with the sage advice of Bonney Staffing professionals. If you are a manager heading up a team in manufacturing, the medical field, customer service, or any industry where staff competency and productivity matters, then get ready, set, motivate!
1. Getting in the Trenches
The best managers lead by example, says Nicole Aberle, South Portland, Maine Branch Manager at Bonney Staffing. “They don’t ask their staff to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves, and in some cases, they actually do it themselves.” Getting in the trenches and working alongside staff is one of the best things managers can do to keep morale and motivation above sea level. It’s also the best way to understand the challenges of what their employees are doing day-to-day. If you are a manager, be visible. Show staff that when there’s a project on the line, everyone is working to get it completed.
Feedback, started early and provided consistently, is essential to employee motivation. While some managers rely on providing team feedback, in most cases, maintaining a dialogue with individuals about their progress, difficulties, and role in a project’s success is just as important. But remember that it’s not just about performance data. Setting goals and evaluating progress is important, but it’s the time spent talking with employees about their ideas and concerns that makes the feedback loop work in everyone’s favor. And transparency is key to building employee respect. Tracey Chase, Branch Manager in Windham, Maine said she gains respect from staff because she’s transparent. Said Chase, “A common misstep by managers is not staying honest with their employees about why they’re making certain requests.”
3. A Positive Workplace
Good managers are never blind to the morale-building effects of a positive company culture. Motivating staff involves more than a check every Friday. Creating a fun, inclusive workplace is easy, and it’s essential in making employees feel like they are part of a team. Things like lunchtime activities (fitness challenges, group walks and yoga classes are great motivators with healthy benefits), cake to celebrate birthdays and milestones, and things like pizza parties, meeting refreshments, and casual Fridays are the meat and potatoes of workplace motivation. When employees feel like they can relax, interact with co-workers, and break away from the daily monotony, the effect on motivation is enormous – it’s something money just can’t buy.
While a positive atmosphere in the workplace reaps important motivational rewards, the effect of money can’t be ignored. While the best managers agree that a staff brings their A-game to a project when they are intrinsically motivated, the fact is, employees also respond positively to fair compensation. “We understand people are out there to take care of their families first,” said Chase. When employees know they are achieving that goal, it allows them to put their best work forward.
5. The Big Picture
Finally, most managers agree that motivation is dead on arrival if employees are not involved in the big picture. Understanding why it’s important that a task be done and done well is the foundation of employee motivation. When an employee knows how their work serves a larger need, whether it’s corporate success, community betterment, or a single satisfied customer, the most menial of tasks can feel important. Understanding the big picture and their role in it gives employees purpose, and that’s the mainline to motivation.
Even with the best techniques, it’s important to remember that motivation changes over time. “All employees experience hills and valleys in their work,” Chase said. “Motivation changes with the time of year, the season, and with how long someone has been employed.” What worked yesterday simply may not work tomorrow. Sometimes an employee needs a pay increase, other times they may need help juggling childcare issues or home life. It’s up to managers to understand individual needs and respond to them.
Flexibility is a motivation technique that isn’t always easy to teach, but good managers do it well, insists Aberle. “A manager must serve as an advocate for their employees, and those who do are much more likely to have a satisfied staff,” she said. “It’s important that employees feel empowered and encouraged by their managers. The outcome of their work will be better and their confidence will increase.”