The importance of employee motivation in the modern business world can’t be overstated since it’s likely to be the determining factor in whether your best-laid plans succeed or fail. Indeed, one of the biggest reasons the American economy has been able to maintain its dominant international position is the fact that U.S. workers are among the most productive in the entire world. However, after 150 years of nearly unprecedented productivity, we may have hit our maximum.
As structural forces begin to slow growth in productivity, you’ll need to rely even more on motivating team members to find future gains and maintain the success you’ve already built. Here’s how to get started.
1. Pay Them What They Deserve
The best employees deserve the best salaries, and when you fail to pay them enough it can seriously interfere with employee motivation. This is even truer given contemporary economic circumstances, in which the average worker’s real wage hasn’t increased for decades, as defined by inflation and proportional spending power.
In a wage climate where even solid middle-class workers can still feel like they’re not getting ahead, your top performers are likely to put a lot of weight into what you’re willing to pay them. If you’re not able to meet their standards, they may even begin looking for greener pastures.
However, it’s important to remember that financial incentives are just the first step. Even the best paycheck won’t make a nightmare work environment more tolerable, so it’s best to view employee salaries as setting the sturdy platform on which you’ll need to build a variety of enticing motivating incentives, like those below.
2. Encourage Risk Taking
When brainstorming employee motivation ideas, never forget how appealing it can be for high performers when you present them with a challenge and give them room to take risks. Encouraging your employees to take risks and explore new ideas lets them flex their professional muscles and prevents feelings of stagnation or “spinning their wheels.”
Even better, giving your employees breathing room will motivate them and can often inspire them to come up with revolutionary ideas that will benefit your entire organization. By fostering an atmosphere of creative exploration, you can ensure that the best and brightest members of your workforce are constantly working to improve themselves, and so improve your bottom line.
3. Accept Failure
One of the most important employee motivation techniques is to provide room for failure in your team’s endeavors. While long-term failure should obviously be avoided, short-term setbacks offer crucial learning opportunities, without which the most skilled and talented employees on your team won’t have room to experiment and grow. By leaving room for temporary failure, you open the door to long-term success and highlight the close partnership between failure and innovation.
While you should certainly never encourage failure outright, always view setbacks as an opportunity to reevaluate your opportunities for achieving success, instead of seeing it as a reason to chastise or discourage your team members.
4. Listen to Them
Communication is perhaps the single most pivotal factor in encouraging motivated employees. While your team is used to hearing from you on a daily basis, it’s just as important to make sure you actively put effort into listening to them in return. The same philosophy must hold true among all your managers, and it’s important to ensure that your leadership personnel understand how important it is that all employees feel that they’re heard and cared for.
Instead of taking a passive stance that relies on employees reaching out to you, adopt an active mindset and proactively ask your team members for updates about their professional and personal lives. Doing so makes it explicitly clear that you’re interested in them as both employees and human beings and helps break down the walls of authority that can leave employees feeling like they’re not allowed to be open with you.
By actively maintaining open lines of communication, you’ll ensure that your team members never hesitate to come to you when problems arise and are always willing to offer their best ideas for helping projects succeed. Even when your employees appear satisfied and productive, make sure to explicitly solicit feedback about how you can make your company a better place to work.
5. Help Them Grow
Instead of waiting to see how your employees develop on their own, it’s better to actively seek ways to help them advance both personally and professionally. Identify your top performers and look for ways to present them with new challenges and opportunities to advance their professional education. Similarly, always keep an eye on employees who may be struggling or stagnating, and work with them directly to figure out why they’re having trouble advancing and how you can help them break out of their rut.
Whether you manage a team of two or dozens, motivating your team members both individually and collectively is the best way to ensure you’re able to achieve success. By laying a foundation that encourages open communication and the active pursuit of personal and professional advancement, you make it that much easier to exceed expectations in the future.
Learn more about our motivating team members course to learn other more about keeping your team members motivated and sign up for a course preview today.