How to motivate employees effectively
As managers or leaders, one can say that motivating employees is a crucial aspect of the job. You are not blind to when employees become uninterested or lazy with their work, it becomes fairly obvious, even when they think that you are not aware. However, can you blame them if they are not motivated?
People have fleeting emotions and motivation is something that is just as fleeting. As leaders, it is essential that we identify when an employee loses their motive to do or to even come to work, and addressing it in a way that does not intimidate your employee entirely decides your managerial qualities. It can get frustrating, especially if you are motivated and they are not, however, leadership involves certain responsibilities and this is one of them.
You will be surprised to note that managers are not the only ones worrying about employee motivation. The employees themselves do not want to be caught demotivated, their entire lives depend on the job that they are asked to work in. Most employees want to get better but hit a slump at work for various reasons. As a manager, it is your duty to identify this slump and make it better.
You will also be surprised to note that when most managers make it their mission to ‘motivate’, it fails immediately. A mission to motivate employees is just another method of exerting managerial authority over your employees; there is no understanding or line crossed here. Motivation isn’t something that can be given to another person. It is something that people already possess. Even your employees who seem disinterested in the work that they do have ideas to share, ideas that could help you or the project that you are working on together.
As a manager, your job is not to motivate. Your job is to get these ideas out of your employees in a way that makes them feel comfortable. You need to create a space where they feel ready and comfortable to share their ideas with you and the rest of the team.
So your job as a manager isn’t to motivate your team; because this, you cannot do. Your job is to create a space where they can motivate themselves into better versions of themselves.
Let’s look at a few ways with which we can encourage employees to become better.
Learn what motivates them
Helping an employee motivate themselves can be challenging if you are thinking with a one-track mind. What’s fascinating is, when you actually get down to thinking about creating a space for them to be free, it’s quite easy. All you have to do is ask a few questions to yourself and act on the answers that you arrive with.
- What is it that they want to do?
- When was the last time they were motivated? What was the work that motivated them? Was it a project? What was about the project that kept them engaged?
- Ask yourself who inspires them. It can be a celebrity, it can be anyone that inspires them to do better; it can even be a fictional character with attributing quirks that they seem to like.
- What is their dream? If you were the one that interviewed them, you would have asked them these questions. Use these answers and build your narrative.
- What is it about the job that deeply motivates them? As a manager, there are certain observations you make whether your intentions are to help your employees motivate themselves or not. These observations come in handy when you actually want to get down to doing something meaningful.
Creating this sort of healthy space can be a bit challenging because of its ongoing nature. There is no easy way to crack this and hence, all the more reason to put any effort into making this happen. Not only will you be appreciated for your effort, but your employees will also learn to trust you more.
Make it personal
The thing about motivation that makes it so important in a workplace is that it is a very intimate and subjective process. What motivates one person might not motivate someone else. What managers usually end up doing is that they normally project their emotions onto their employees. Why this is wrong is mainly because of how different people are.
For instance, if you find it easy to stick to a schedule and focus on detail-oriented work, you might believe that everyone around you feels the same about the style of work. Then, you notice that they’re not motivated on the project and seem to be struggling, and then you start to wonder if they are motivated or not. What you need to understand here is people function differently and it is a manager’s responsibility to find out how people can be most effective in the area that they are most comfortable with.
Give them a choice
Yes, making it personal does alleviate some problems that can come on an intrinsic level. However, when it a group project or something related to or within a team specific outline, then going personal might not be feasible. When a situation like this arises, you can give your employees a choice.
Giving them a choice boosts and strengthens their will to do their job better. This is because the choice makes it their decision, and thus improves the quality of work and increases commitment. By giving them a choice, you are giving them the freedom to choose the most appropriate and comfortable work that they can work on, which is win-win for both parties.
For instance, people might not be able to choose their own projects. However, what you can give them is a choice on how they want to work on it and how to approach it. What you can do instead of merely assigning someone with a few sets of tasks, you can allow them to participate in the creation of these tasks and give them the choice to be able to choose what they want to work on. When people can actively choose their own tasks, they’re more likely to complete them.
Do not micromanage
Micromanaging is as harmful as it sounds. It negatively impacts motivation. Each time you micromanage, or remind someone a thousand times to do something, or look over your shoulder and observe someone who’s been given a task, you are not helping. When you give someone a deadline, you are invariably stressing them out.
What are ‘deadlines’? Deadlines are merely targets that are set to present a sense of urgency. What is it that you are trying to achieve by setting these deadlines? Are you trying to create a supportive environment to alleviate employee motivation? If this is your motive, micromanaging is not the way.
Sometimes, you won’t even have the authority to create an environment for your employees to motivate themselves. The company might not allow it, you might not have the resources needed, or there might be some toxicity from the higher-ups that you can’t shake off. If these are certain criteria that aren’t letting you give your employees some slack, let them know.
As a manager, you must communicate with your employees and let them know if something isn’t working out or if something just plain sucks. Tell them you understand their point of view and do not alienate them. An explanation behind why things are restraining helps to decrease the burden that reduces performance. Recognizing the bad helps clear room for someone to try to do good.