10 Best Ways to Motivate Your Staff

Increased job satisfaction and performance, decreased turnover rates, and overall growth in company profits have all been linked back to employee motivation.

Psychological studies have different names for highly successful, motivated employees, discussing levels of “organizational commitment” or rates of reported “needs satisfaction.”  Whatever the theoretical approach, the bottom line is still the same; motivated employees propel a company forward.

Below, we’ve outlined for you ten of the best ways to motivate your staff.

1. Lead by example.


Motivation has to start from the top. Any leadership training will tell you that people struggle to follow where they perceive a duality in standards, or the pretense of a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Specific applications vary from business to business, but usually involve leading with both an affirming, constructive attitude and disciplined, dedicated work ethic.  Your conduct will be powerful motivation for your employees.

2. Set company goals.

Psychologists talk about humans desiring three things: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. These ideas work into several of the tips on our list; the third is particularly relevant here. People want to feel like they are part of the team; our next point will follow this as it relates to co-worker relationships, but it has to begin, again, at the top.

Companies who are able to articulate long-term and short-term goals to their staff will find their business running more smoothly. Workers are motivated by the transparency and vision of clearly-communicated goals. Having the big picture influences the manner in which day-to-day tasks are carried out. Everyone is on the same page, and this “relatedness” is highly motivating.

3. Promote cooperation over competition.

Competition can sometimes be useful within a company, but the stronger pull should be toward cooperation. Again referring back to the idea of “relatedness,” cooperation among employees promotes unity and increases the likelihood of an employee staying with a company. Encouraging a mindset of cooperation guards against destructive, self-promoting behaviors like deception and manipulation that can crop up in environments of intense competition. Cooperation is motivating.

4. Pair employees with fitting tasks.

This has to do with the “competence” side of the psychological triangle. Studies show that employees are most motivated to complete tasks that are appropriately challenging. Throwing an insufficiently-trained employee into an overly challenging situation will create more stress than satisfaction. Under-stimulation will foster boredom. Job descriptions should pair with an employee’s level of training.

5. Work with employees as individuals.

“Competency” continues, as the easiest way to ensure employees are linked to appropriate tasks is by checking in with them one-on-one. Employees, when given the opportunity, can offer valuable insight into their own performance and productivity and ways in which it might be improved. This is also a great time to bring in the final element, “autonomy,” by encouraging staff to offer suggestions and set personal goals that align with the larger company goals. As employees take ownership of their positions, motivation has been shown to increase.

6. Have a positive working environment.

Workplace environment comes up again and again as one of the key factors in employee satisfaction, performance, and longevity. And “positivity” is the keyword. Across a variety of industries, employees repeatedly report that they would be willing to move for a job with a positive work environment.

7. Have a functional working environment.

Since work environment plays such a big role in employee satisfaction and performance, we’ll give you one more tip. Besides being positive, a work environment needs to be functional in order to fully facilitate productive, motivated employees. Your staff can probably offer insight here, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. Ask employees which facets of office life, if any, are hindering their performance, and what could be done to rectify these issues.  A little extra effort placed on good organization and communication could have big payoffs.

8. Offer incentives.

Sure, life can’t be all extrinsic motivation; there aren’t ribbons and candy bars for every success. But finding fitting ways to reward great work will motivate your staff and help you create room for growth in every area of your company. Look for ways to recognize quality work, and keep employees challenged by providing plenty of opportunities for growth and development.

9. Provide plenty of training.

This ties back in to incentives.  Motivated employees are challenged by their work environment, so facilitate and encourage the development of new skills. An employee won’t be on the lookout for a different job if he or she is looking forward to new and exciting opportunities within his or her current company.

10. Give (and take) feedback.

From assimilation with company-wide goals to individual performance, personal employee feedback, done well, will motivate employees. Learn how to offer feedback in an affirming manner, and avoid using set apart evaluation times as regular opportunities for criticism. Make sure communication goes both ways, giving employees time to ask questions and offer suggestions.
Opening up constructive communication will be motivating to you, as leadership, as well. As employees are able to invest in the vision of the company, they will be increasingly eager to provide hiring referrals, pass along creative ideas for company improvement and growth, and speak well of your company within their personal social circles.

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