When it comes to job satisfaction, financial rewards may be lower on the list than most people think. Being happy with your job often depends more on intangibles such as feeling part of a team and feeling valued and appreciated. In fact, these factors consistently outrank money when employees are polled about job satisfaction.
As a case in point, “Bill” is a very competent project manager at a software development company. He was hired a few months ago and is already thinking of looking elsewhere because he gets no feedback from his manager and does not understand how his work fits into the company’s overall goals. His motivation and morale are also low because he receives no feedback on his performance. Although his hours are much better than they were at his last company, he is not as engaged in his work and does not care as much. As many managers know, Bill’s story is not unique. So here are some tips and strategies for motivating and retaining valuable employees. Many of them may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised how many managers neglect to follow them.
Step 1: Clearly Define Your Vision. Make sure that you communicate your vision to employees and they understand the steps you and they will be taking.
Step 2: Give Employees The Tools They Need. Do not just assume that each of your employees is receiving all the tools, training, and support they need from supervisors. Check with them personally and find out.
Step 3: Communicate Constantly. Perhaps the most important part of a good manager’s job is communicating effectively. Creating a culture of communication in which managers and employees share common goals and work together can make a good company great and turn around a non-performing company. Use channels such as email, newsletters, training sessions, and all-hands meetings to present your vision to your employees. Make sure to ask questions, and if they are confused, explain it differently.
Step 4: Get everyone engaged. Figure out a way to get all of your employees engaged in planning and decision-making. This way, the project becomes their baby and something they want to make a success. Ask for input and use their ideas as much as possible so they have a vested interest in seeing the project succeed. This can not only empower and motivate employees but can lead to new and more productive ways of working that normally would be overlooked.
Step 5: Coach For Success. Feedback is another great motivator. Offer feedback as often as possible instead of waiting for periodic reviews. Both positive and negative feedback should be given immediately to encourage more of the same performance and allow employees to take corrective action. If you can, schedule weekly meetings with individual employees to provide an opportunity to discuss ongoing projects and issues. These meetings do not have to take a lot of time and they can build strong working relationships. Do not forget to say “Thank you!” for a job well done. It is a powerful motivator and should be done in person if possible. Publicly acknowledging employees’ contributions is even better.
Step 6: Act Fairly, Respectfully, And Create Trust. Use your judgment, wisdom, and experience to create a supportive environment. When problems arise, analyze the situation, understand the context, and then pass judgment. Respect and trust your team and you will get the same in return. If you make a mistake, apologize and admit you were wrong. This will allow your employees to relate to you better, and they will appreciate your honesty.
Step 7: Trust And Verify While Making Work Fun. Good bosses pay attention to the big picture and the details and care both about the product as well as employees. A good way to show that is to be involved in the creation process and to pay attention to what is going on. And remember to do this with a smile on your face. Lighten up! Making work fun pays off since people get a lot more done when they are enjoying themselves.
Step 8: Engage High-Potential Employees. High-potential employees always have other opportunities—even during a recession, and studies show that is they are anxious about their future they will most likely be making plans to leave. To keep them engaged, consider putting more resources into career development and training. Or perhaps you can give them new projects that will help the company adapt to the changing market, grow, and develop.
Step 9: Be Creative To Avoid Downsizing. An employer that treats employees as true partners makes every effort to avoid layoffs. Employees should be able to trust that management is doing everything possible to retain them including taking voluntary steps to reduce costs. This step may sound far-fetched, but you would be surprised at how reasonable people can be about pay cuts and/or working overtime as part of a crisis strategy if they know it means they still have a job.
Step 10: Implement Incentive Programs. You should consider incentive programs no matter what kind of business you are in because it has been proven that they motivate employees. And a major benefit is that the cost can be based on actual performance and paid out only after an employee has reached a desired goal. Sending the message that if you do well, you will be rewarded makes a positive impact on the company as a whole and employees will work hard to meet the target.
When employees feel their work is valued, turnover tends not to be a big problem. Whenever a company supports its employees, turnover rates drop significantly, and recognition, praise, and special incentives are tools that you can use to show employees their work is appreciated.
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