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Understanding What Really Motivates Employees

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In this post, we review an article listing “14 Management Do’s and Don’ts to Motivate Employees.” Yet, unlike many opinion pieces on this topic, every one of the suggestions is fantastic advice.

The work appeared in Entrepreneur magazine, and is divided into seven “DOs” and seven “DON’Ts.” Here are some selected tips:

  • DON’T send mixed messages to your employees so that they never know where you stand.
  • DON’T act more concerned about your own welfare than anything else.
  • DON’T avoid taking responsibility for your actions.
  • DO what you say you are going to do when you are going to do it.
  • DO be responsive (return phone calls, emails).
  • DO admit your mistakes.
  • DO smile and laugh.

Some of the tips featured in the article may seem like common sense, but some are definitely worth expanding on.

When it comes to not being concerned about your own welfare more than anything else, there’s nothing that can turn off a worker quicker than a boss who simply views them as a cog in a machine. Think about the best bosses you’ve ever had. A safe assumption would be that they cared not only about your professional success, but your personal success as well. Perhaps when you left the company, they wished you well in your endeavors and were able to write genuine reference letters. That’s the kind of manager you should seek to be. And, if your workers feel empowered and trusted, they’re going to perform better. That means you get much more benefit than a boss who makes it clear that he or she cares about their own welfare.

You’ve had the frustration of sending someone an email and never hearing a response. That often leads to a trip to their office or an additional phone call until your answer is secured. As infuriating as that experience can be, you should strive to avoid causing others the same strife. Especially as a manager, it’s important to set the example that things can be replied to in a timely manner. If you do that for your employees, they’re way more likely to do the same for you.

Admitting your mistakes is one of the quickest ways to earn trust, regardless of whether you’re a manger or someone being managed. The default response to mistakes seems to be denial. Very few people want to take full responsibility for something they’ve done wrong. That’s why it’s so refreshing when someone owns up to a mistake and seeks to find a way to remedy the problem. As we’ve covered on this blog many times before, failure is usually just a step on the way to success. Don’t deny your mistakes, but embrace them and show those who you manage that you’re willing to admit when you’ve been wrong.

We’re used to seeing tremendously bad advice from many sources about workplace productivity and motivation. In fact, we hear stories about people trying to force employee productivity more often than doing so through direct empowerment!

business consultant is frustrated

© Flickr user stuartpilbrow

This article from Entrepreneur, however, demonstrates real understanding of what actually increases employee satisfaction. Ultimately, the worst kind of incentive is something external (like removing bonuses as a form of business improvement solutions) and the best is something internal (like increased incentives to improve improve employee retention).

Take the advice of this great article. But watch out for shortcuts to motivation in the form of bribes or threats. Rather, engage your colleagues as human beings and demonstrate your confidence in their ability to explore, discover, and succeed. And if you need more information or tips on this subject, contact the business improvement consultants at AccelaWork today!

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