10 Ways to Motivate Employees - Accion Opportunity Fund
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10 Ways to Motivate Employees

Ten easy tips on how to motivate your employees to maximize performance, improve company culture, and grow your business.


In a perfect world, each of us would feel amazing about our jobs and give 100% effort to every task every day. We’d go the extra mile for each customer, outperform the day before, never tire, and always look for ways to improve. Luckily, some days are like that, for both employers and employees. If you’re an owner or manager, you know how lucky you are when they happen. If you’d like them to happen more often, there’s a lot you can do! And we’re here to help you with 10 easy tips on how to motivate employees to maximize performance.


1. Make work comfortable.

That means everything from creating a pleasant work environment to making sure your employees have everything they need to do their jobs properly. If work feels like a struggle, it will be a struggle to get top performance out of your people.

Don’t scrimp. Hire a cleaning service to keep things looking and feeling nice. Make sure your computers, technology and other equipment are up to date. Get a coffee pot and spring for doughnuts or bagels every once in a while.


2. Walk the walk.

Don’t ask your employees to do something you wouldn’t do. Lead by example and lend your experience. People are much more likely to do what you ask when they know you’d do the same. Don’t just raise the bar, hold it up.


3. Talk the talk.

Communicate on a regular basis to let everyone know what their individual and collective goals are. It lets people feel connected and reminds them they’re part of something greater. It also allows you to talk about issues while they’re still small and can be corrected. Also, it gives you the opportunity to offer praise along the way.

It’s hard to exceed (or even reach) high standards when you don’t know what they are. Make sure your employees understand what’s expected of them. Training your employees well will allow them to do their jobs well.


4. Accentuate the positive.

Recognize and reward good performance. You can do this through official contests if you have a large enough staff, or on a more informal basis.

Treat someone to lunch when you’ve gotten good feedback about them. Tie promotions, raises, and bonuses to performance goals, and pay them happily and enthusiastically. Single out individuals for special mention during staff meetings. Send a note or card of appreciation. SAY THANK YOU. Be nice.

There may be times when you have to confront negative outcomes or behavior, but your long-term strategy should be to keep things positive whenever possible.


5. Ask for feedback.

Get suggestions. Gain insight. Listen and learn. Make changes when you need to in response to what you’re hearing.

Make your people part of the process. It’s the best way for them to feel a sense of ownership over the outcome, and they will work harder when they have a personal stake.

Create an atmosphere where no idea is too silly or outside the box. You never know where the next brilliant suggestion will come from or what it will be!

6. Be fair and consistent.

Don’t choose favorites. Spread around your time, attention, and good counsel. Apply all of the rules and policies equally. Encourage everyone to be involved. Set up a level playing field so all can participate and contribute.


7. Recognize individuality.

Understand that each member of your staff is an individual and will respond uniquely in his or her own way. Effective managers learn how to tailor their messages accordingly.

There are few one-size-fits-all management techniques. Different people will be motivated by different approaches, so know your audience and act accordingly. Some employees like to rise to a challenge, while others will do well with more hand-holding.

Seeing your people as people also means understanding and having an appreciation for what’s going on in their lives outside of work. Celebrate birthdays and other milestones. Ask about spouses and children. Be aware of any circumstances at home or with family that might impact or influence someone’s performance.


8. See the big picture.

Nobody wants to be taken advantage of, but don’t get sucked into the trap of pointing out every little infraction or slip-up. Patterns are what matter most, and if the overall trend is toward success, overlook the small stuff-unless it’s illegal or immoral, or shows a lack of respect to you and the company.

If everything else is going well, then pick your battles. No one will die if someone takes an extra 15 minutes for lunch occasionally, but it’s altogether different if an expense report gets inflated. If and when you do have to call someone out, keep it positive and respectful. Criticize the action, not the person.

9. Be inclusive.

Motivation requires a partnership between management and workers. Spread the credit around when you’re successful. Nothing inspires respect and loyalty more than your crew knowing you have their backs.

Share the triumphs and, at the same time, shoulder as much of the blame or responsibility as possible if and when the occasion presents itself. It’s not about you, but about the team.


10. Turn ’em loose.

Whenever possible, give your employees the freedom to do what they do and authority over how to get it done. It’s empowering to take ownership over a situation, and in most cases, people want to rise to the occasion.

Give everyone a sense of purpose, along with the knowledge that they’re part of something greater than themselves. Encourage intellect, initiative, imagination, and ingenuity. Then get out of the way.

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