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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How to Motivate Employees to Get More Done


I recently asked my Facebook friends, "What would motivate you more:

  1. A $100 gift card in private or

  2. Recognition in front of all your peers at a meeting?"

The responses:

  • 1/3 said a $100 gift card

  • 1/3 said recognition at a meeting

  • 1/3 said both!

Everyone is motivated differently. Stay in the Smart Zone by motivating people in a way that allows each person to do his/her best work. Use the following tips:

Use meaningful rewards and recognition. A golf outing on the weekend or an after work happy hour isn't very motivating for a busy family person or a single parent. Learn what is meaningful to your staff.

Don't save compliments and criticism for the annual performance appraisal review. Provide feedback on a consistent basis so your employees know where they stand. People lose motivation when they feel uninformed and when they get surprised during their performance appraisal.

Catch people doing something well. Many times when employees are doing something well it goes unnoticed because we assume they are just doing their job. Compliment them, buy them a cup of coffee, recognize them at a staff meeting or even jot them a handwritten note acknowledging what you caught them doing well.

Reward top performers with more challenging assignments. Even though the tendency is to keep the top performer in the job where he/she is excelling, make an effort to shift this person into a more challenging role before he/she gets bored and loses motivation. Fear is only a short-term motivator. People who are intimidated by a boss or co-worker or fearful of losing their job will lose motivation over time and become unproductive.

Give staff members the resources they need to do their jobs. Roadblocks to accomplishing job tasks will increase frustration and decrease motivation. Broken office equipment, lack of technical or personal support or even lack of office supplies can lower motivation. Don't let a bad apple spoil the bunch. Set a positive tone. You've heard the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." A moody manager or irritable co-worker can set the tone for the entire office. To motivate staff maintain a steady mood that is upbeat and positive - even if you have to just "act" positive sometimes.