11 Amazing employee motivation ideas you should try in 2013
It's a new year! Time to change things up with your employees, try something new, and get creative. If you're not leading the way in the changing workplace, you might be able to feel the dust whipping by your cheeks as you get left behind. Employers and managers have been using the same old horrible motivation techniques for decades to try to make their workforce more productive, but the world has changed and it's time to modernize your workplace.
We've taken your comments from our 11 Scrooge approved employee motivation ideas blog post, and come up with a list of 11 amazing employee motivation ideas you should try.... right now!
11. Motivation is not a "program"
This one is a blog comment from David Rutler and we like it!
Ultimately, if intrinsic motivation is absent then all else is a temporary fix at best. Motivation is not a program, it is a personal approach to dealing with individuals. Each person is likely motivated differently and in varying degrees. The key to motivation is knowing your people. You don't have to give away the farm to satisfy people's motivation. You only have to know them on a personal level and what drives them. I tend to move away from "management" and lean into leadership. You manage projects, but you lead people.
10. Treat your employees like adults.
What is the role your employees play? What are the expectations you set for them? According to social expecations theory, we know that people tend to adopt social norms and roles and to conform their behavior to meet expectations. Step back and look at your employees' perception of their roles in your organization. Are they treated like adults or children? Here's an example of social expectations in the workplace: Jim comes into work early because he knows you keep track of his time, pretends to be busy when you're watching, sneaks down the hall to gossip with co-workers, calls in sick (with extra coughing so you know he's not faking it!), and asks permission to leave early to see his kid at a her holiday program at school.
Really? Jim, a grown man, feels the need to act like a grade schooler -- asking permission, sneaking around, looking busy, faking sick to get a day off. When you treat your empoyees like children, they will act like children.
9. Let employees figure out HOW they work best; don't give orders.
This is one of the big points in Why Managing Sucks. Part of being a manager is paying attention to what matters. Managers must focus on the WHAT of work, and leave the HOW to the adults that have been hired. This is WHAT needs to be achieved (end result). Now go do it.
8. Motivated by freedom and responsibility
One of our young friends, Kelly at Cordelia Calls It Quits, says it this way: "When managers try to intercede and direct too much, they limit our ability to exceed expectations. Some of the best places I've worked have been where my boss comes to me and says: 'Here's the big picture, this is what we need to accomplish, how do you want to get it done?' That makes me feel great. When others are looking at me to deliver great results, what's a better motivator than that? I'm not motivated by a list of rules and parameters and policies, to be restricted that way."
7. Coach and encourage
If micro-managers are like babysitters, then the bosses we all hope to have are like great coaches. What kind of boss are you, a micro-manager or a coach? Your management style is a huge factor in motivating your team. It's not just about the right incentives or the right programs or benefits packages. Do you bring out the best in your team? Take our simple quiz to see what kind of boss you are.
6. Focus on strengths.
Your employees aren't you. They will do things differently than the way you do them, so help them play to their strengths! Our friend Marcus Buckingham says it like this:
Your unique contribution makes the team great. So, bring it. Discover your genius. Be accountable for contributing your very best. Embrace the diversity of your team.
5. The bottom line is TRUST.
What does it look like when you're trusted at work?
Mistakes are opportunities to fix problems and move on, not overreact with new policies, rules and regulations. Employees are trusted as the experts that they are and expected to deliver results, or they don't have a job.
What does it NOT look like?
Sludge. It's the employees gathering around the water cooler, gossiping about who took vacation or who is allowed to work from home. When there's no trust from leadership or among teams, them individuals don't trust each other either.
4. Financial Incentives
In our last post we talked about the wrong way to use financial incentives and compensation as motivators. However, financial incentives can be a good way to motivate employees, as long as you use them as part of a bigger plan and align these incentives with the workplace culture as a whole. We shared Vision Link Advisory Group's unhealthy incentives list with you last time. Conversely, a healthy view of incentives would have a company view their purpose as follows:
This approach to incentives is one of reinforcement, validation, alignment and unity. It says to employees that ownership sees them as key partners in building a unified financial vision for growing the business.
3. Don't force. Reinforce.
Another way of looking at aligning your incentives is the contrast between forcing and reinforcing. Are you manipulating and forcing your employees to be on their best behavior, or are you focusing on positives and reinforcing values?
2. Outcome-based goals and frequent reviews
Just as bad goals and infrequent reviews are bad motivators, meaningful goals and frequent conversations about performance are extremely motivating. Outcome-based goal setting gets everyone aligned first. This way, creating measurable results is effective and achievable. This framework is outcome-based thinking and generates an environment where performance is managed on a continuous basis. That means all the time, not just at the yearly performance review meeting. We have a step-by-step process we use in our Beyond Telework for Managers Training for outcome-based goal setting and a handy template for getting started [link].
1. Results-Only Work Environment
OK, obviously you know our feelings about this one! Forget flexibility, go beyond telework, just bypass all those gimmicks and programs that put the focus on time and presence. ROWE focuses on results and is proven to increase productivity and employee retention, and boost customer satisfaction. You can read more about how ROWE has been adopted across multiple industries and hear testimonials and stories from our satisfied clients in our new book, Why Managing Sucks.