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October 11, 2011 / mike54martin

Ten Tips to Motivate Employees

Ten Tips to Motivate  Employees

By Mike Martin

Napoleon Bonaparte once said that “There are two levers for moving men — interest and fear,” but modern managers and supervisors have learned that there are many other ways to motivate their employees. Here then are ten more ways to motivate employees.

Understand What Motivates Employees

Every employee has their own motivation, something that drives them towards success. Your job as a manager or supervisor is to find that out. Some employers have employees check off their own motivators from a list and others do it the old fashioned way, by meeting and getting to know each of your team members. Once you know what they think motivates them you can tailor your motivational techniques to meet their needs.

Rewards Matter

We can say all we want that money isn’t everything (and it isn’t) and material things don’t matter (which at the end of the day they really don’t) but people still like rewards of all kinds and can be motivated to achieve them. Why are affinity programs so popular? It’s because they hold the promise of rewards in the future. So to the extent you can, based on your budget and organizational culture, reward early and often.

Align Your Goals with Their Goals

One of the mistakes that many businesses and organizations make is that they leave the workers out of the strategic planning process. When this happens it usually ends up that the organizational goals are miles apart from the day to day lives and ambitions of the ordinary employees. The way to remedy this is to bring more workers into the planning process at the very beginning and allow them to help shape the organizational goals for the future. They have a much better chance of being achieved if everyone in the organization believes that are worthwhile.

Create a Positive Environment

There are many things that are completely out of the hands of the manager or supervisor when it comes to motivating employees, but the working environment is not one of them. A workplace that is pleasant to come into where employees are treated with respect and feel worthwhile is not just a happy workplace, it is a productive one. It is up to the manager and supervisors to create and maintain a working space that can allow and encourage employees to reach their potential.

Celebrate Success

The speed of the modern workplace and the demands on all of us too often causes us to skip over the many minor successes that happen every day. It may not seem like a big deal to finally figure out how the latest software can actually work or to get the latest issue of the catalogue out the door on schedule but unless we stop to celebrate these small victories our staff may become complacent and demoralized. A pat on the back on the way home might be enough to keep at least one employee motivated and don’t be surprised if they share this with others.

Training Can Motivate Too

Many of us think of training only when we bring new employees into the workplace but what about the people who have been here for years? Employees often see training as a benefit, particularly when it is not directly related to their day to day duties. Lunch time seminars and workshops allow them to learn new skills or techniques to help them to grow but also to feel appreciated and happier at work.

Have Some Fun

Work is serious business, right? Work should be serious but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun as well. Everyone loves pizza lunches or an extra donut or muffin in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a lot but small acts of frivolity have a way of lightening the mood and sometimes even the pressure in a busy office or workplace. You don’t have to go crazy but having a little fun can go a long ways to improving employee morale and motivating employees.

Coaching and Mentoring

Many organizations now use coaches or mentors to help senior level executives reach their potential and many others use these methods to groom their best and brightest to move into the executive suite. But what about using coaching or mentoring for other staff as well? It may not cost too much to bring in a professional coach for one day a week to work with your staff and there are probably plenty of possible mentors in your organization already. Like training this is a tangible investment in people that can only but help to motivate them to be better.

Follow Through

There is nothing more demoralizing to an employee than to be promised something and not delivered it. It causes them to question your intentions, motives and even your integrity and just as word of your good deeds get around, your lapses travel even faster. Your word is your bond with your staff and if you want not only their trust, but their commitment to go that extra mile when things are tough, stick to your commitments. If you follow through your employees will know it and appreciate it as well.

Motivate Yourself

If you are just dragging yourself around the office or if you are mooning about how good things were at the last place you worked then don’t be surprised if your employees are not too motivated to follow your directions. Enthusiasm and motivation are contagious and when it comes to motivation you are the chief cheerleader. So you had best figure out quickly what can motivate you before you try and motivate others. It might start with taking care of yourself and little things like getting enough sleep. Practicing self-improvement or even working on some of your more glaring weaknesses will also help. It is up to you to model motivation for the rest of the team. If they see a balanced and fairly happy leader at the helm then they just might be more likely to row a little harder when the water gets a little choppy.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of “Change the Things You Can” (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit:


Leave a Comment
  1. Jeannette Paladino / Oct 11 2011 8:20 pm

    All your suggestions are right on target. And many of them cost no money. What’s been lost in this frantic, technical world we live in, are two words, “Thank you.” An atta boy, great job, thanks a lot, is so appreciated yet managers are very stingy with them. That’s really sad.

  2. / Oct 11 2011 8:45 pm

    I agree with your post- with one exception. I think you need to explain your goals and aims so that your employees are aligned with your goals. The business of business is to achieve profits and success. That means you need to involve your team with the goals of the business. You need to explain to them the motivation behind them. You need to hire folks who are amenable to said goals.
    You cannot divert the momentum or effort of the business to other goals.

  3. Roberta Budvietas / Oct 11 2011 9:49 pm

    Interesting but dare I say a tad to complicated. People crawl over broken glass when they feel they are acknowledged, appreciated and accepted. If as a manager you keep your word and always do your best so that there is predictability for your employees, they will think you are something special
    I do like your fun one because if you fail to have fun, earn funds and maintain fitness all else is meaningless.

  4. Sherryl Perry / Oct 12 2011 6:14 pm

    Mike, While I agree with most of what you’ve outlined here, I couldn’t help but wish you had worded your paragraph “Align Your Goals with Their Goals” differently. I believe that key stakeholders (senior managers, boards of directors and investors) should have a part in the strategic planning process but for the most part, I don’t believe rank and file employees usually have enough information to affect goal planning at that level. I am a huge advocate of affecting change through teams. So, I think at a smaller more focused level, it’s beneficial to a business to have small teams with focused tasks to provide input into a specific process. That does foster and motivate employees and can in affect have a significant impact on the bottom line.

    You’re getting a good discussion going here!

    • mike54martin / Oct 12 2011 6:37 pm

      I think that senior managers often underestimate how much their employees know about the business. They may not know all of the details of the financial forecast but they know whether the company is in trouble or not. They also know how to make savings, what products are actually attractive to customers, and deal directly with client complaints. My position is that the more they are involved in making plans for the future the better chance those plans have for success. And the more they feel that they have any kind of say, the more motivated they will be to help the enterprise get there.

  5. Jim Montgomery / Oct 12 2011 11:30 pm

    Great post Mike. I wish my job did even a few of them. I know I’m an adult but hearing that I’m doing a good job still helps to motivate.

  6. A Doctor And A Nurseana / Oct 13 2011 12:10 pm

    Yes Mike, and if you do all of that your employees will follow you to the ends of the earth. Great insightful post. I’d work for you for sure.

    Following from Linkedin. Thanks for your insights. Jana

  7. Catarina / Oct 13 2011 2:01 pm

    Good suggestions. The main thing however is to lead and not manage your employees. If you don’t nothing else you do will matter. Unfortunately the majority of the so called managers in our world are managers. Until that changes employees will not be better motivated.

  8. Road to Recovery / Oct 14 2011 3:19 am

    Hey, Mike,
    I am not a supervisor, but these same concepts can be used to help motivate others no matter what your relationship with them. I think can even use some of these ideas to help motivate the patients that I work with at the hospital.

    Also thanks for dropping my blog and leaving a comment.

    Road to Recovery

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