7 ways to motivate your people
Keep hold of your talented workforce and strengthen long-term business goals by inspiring staff with the right mix of guidance, resources and rewards. Motivated employees who want to do their best everyday and who are passionate about what they do are more likely to stay with you, helping your business grow.
Putting time and resources into these 6 steps will help build a culture your staff want to be a part of.
1. Consistent leadership
- Lead by example with clear communications to your employees that define your businesses mission, ethics and values.
- Create visible leadership through open-door communication and a management culture that says 'tell me how things are going for you'.
- Make time to get together and share news about your businesses progress and how your employees are contributing to its development.
2. Be inclusive
Everyone's opinion should matter, so nurture an environment that encourages opinions, regardless of job title.
Organisations that have gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity (PDF, 10.7 MB)1 are likely to outperform non-diverse competitors2 – potentially because they are finding the best candidates from a wider talent pool and then keeping them too. It can also provide an antidote to groupthink – offering new and different perspectives.
- Remember to consult your employees about big decisions and changes - and communicate outcomes clearly, and promptly.
- Try new ideas, and create a test and learn environment where everyone feels they can contribute to innovation and change.
- Make sure you have the right policies in place that support the behaviours you expect from your employees, such as respect for each other.
- Foster a spirit of working together as a team and make it possible for people to participate whatever their circumstances.
- Recruit and promote based on merit. Aim to avoid unconscious bias. It will help prevent the frustrations of those whose talents are undervalued or unrecognised and make sure that the most talented rise through the organisation. It also acts as a signal to your whole workforce that hard work and ability will be rewarded – and that managers aren’t simply favouring the people who look and behave like them.
3. Agree goals
Setting goals ensures employees are working towards achievements that are aligned to the needs of your business.
Break down high-level strategy into specific and measurable tasks by using the SMART technique:
Your employees can then see how their role shapes your business’s long-term vision.
In changing circumstances goals may need to be re-visited during the year as unachievable goals can be demotivating.
Consider linking team or individual goals with rewards - incentives such as team prizes can boost confidence and help employees feel valued.
4. Grow your talent
Get to know your employees and you'll be able to support them to reach their own career goals, as well as retain them.
A supportive employer delivers training opportunities and career progression for their staff. This leads to better performance for the business and a happy, skilled workforce.
Even if your budget is small think about ways you can help develop your team. Mentoring between staff members can be beneficial to both sides, younger employees may be able to help older team members with newer technologies while older team members can share their valuable experience. You can also consider things like shadowing so colleagues can learn about different areas of the business, show and tell sessions can share skills or knowledge, secondments, community volunteering, protected time for self-learning and free online training videos.
Encourage your teams to be problem solvers – sorting out a tricky issue can be very satisfying and can help your team grow their skills.
5. Foster resilience in your team
Work life can sometimes be difficult – with pressures and deadlines. People may also be having to deal with things in their personal lives that may affect their performance from time to time. Keep a close eye on the stress levels of your employees and see what you can do to help – this could be as simple as someone having a short screen break or it could be helping them work out a solution to an issue.
A good work-life balance is key for many people to feeling resilient and able to withstand and deal with issues as they arise. Encourage your teams to look after their health and wellbeing. For example, make it clear that you don’t expect employees to be answering emails late at night and you want them to properly switch off from work.
Having a sense of purpose and feeling that you make a difference is valuable to many people. Sometimes providing an explanation of why something is happening and sharing plans can help people deal with change or solve problems. It can also help your staff see how your business makes a difference and how they contribute towards that.
Encourage flexibility and adaptability as this will give people the skills and strength they need to cope with sometimes difficult situations positively and successfully. Allow your people to have a sense of control over their work where possible this will encourage ownership and help produce high quality work consistently.
In busy workplaces, it can sometimes be easy to move swiftly on when something has gone wrong, but it can be valuable to debrief and work out what lessons can be learned so that your team has a better plan for next time a similar situation arises.
6. Reward your staff
Providing a benefits package is one of the best ways to give back to your employees.
- Salaries, commission and bonuses are one of the key drivers why people choose to work for you and what motivates them to stay. Defining experience-graded salary levels that are competitive against similar companies will help attract and retain talented staff. To find out more about national minimum wages and options such as hiring apprentices visit gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates
- Workplace pension schemes are an attractive benefit and all employers will need to provide one for their eligible employees. You can find out more about what you need to do as an employer at gov.uk/workplace-pensions-employers
Rewarding loyalty doesn't always need to be financial, so consider what your business can accommodate and what your employees would enjoy.
- Medical benefits.
- Flexible working options.
- Holiday allowance, days off for birthdays or Christmas shopping.
- Training opportunities and business exchange days.
- Free lunches, community volunteering, social events.
Many employees are self-motivated and are driven by wanting to do a good job. Praise and public recognition can go a long way to helping to keep employees motivated. Make sure you and your colleagues take the time to appreciate a good job well done.
7. Use feedback effectively
Talking to your employees about their performance is an important part of business and personal growth.
- Make sure you protect time for regular one-to-one sessions - ask how your employees feel their work is going and provide constructive feedback.
- Plan formal annual reviews to check progress on current goals and to set new ones.
- Be interested in your employees and look at the whole picture - congratulate success and find out where support can be put in place to increase performance.
- Be specific to each person in both praise and improvement - feedback should be relevant, actionable and not overwhelming.
Feedback sessions aren’t necessarily just one way either. Listen carefully to what employees say as it can provide pointers for where bottlenecks or issues occur and where improvements can be made in your business.
1 McKinsey – ‘Diversity Wins’, Inclusion Report, May 2020.
2 Harvard Business Review - ‘When gender diversity make firms more productive’.
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