Motivating Employees - Some Tips of the Trade

A successful small business manager, by the very nature of the job, needs to have a broad and diverse skill-set. She needs to be smart, creative, and hard-working. She must have the ability to spearhead a marketing campaign, manage a budget, and practice great in-house behaviors with employees. But even among all these skills, there is one crucial talent that rarely fails to stand out: the ability to motivate one’s employees.

There’s no question that a motivated worker is likely to be a more driven and productive one. A workforce that is motivated, moreover, will tend to be happier, more cohesive, and less inclined to seek work elsewhere. Rather than searching out a different job, a motivated employee is more willing to be content with the work that he has. This translates into lower turnover, higher productivity, and a decrease in training costs.

If you’re a small business owner or manager, then, how can you work to motivate your employees in the new year? Here are a few tips:

Have Consistent Reinforcements

Broadly speaking, there are two main ways to approach employee motivation: you can motivate your employees positively, through goals and incentives, or you can take a more negative approach and use worker requirements or threats to boost productivity. Most employers strive for the former approach but end up somewhere in the middle, a location that is undesirable because positive and negative motivators tend to cancel each other out. It is consequently important to remain consistent in your approach.

Cultivate Culture

Many small business managers use a variety of tactics to try to create a “fun” office and boost employee happiness. These tactics include free meals, office parties, and themed work days. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging office outings, but from a motivational perspective the main goal of such outings should not be “culture,” not “fun.” Any event of activity that promotes office cohesiveness can indirectly breed a more motivated employee group down the road. The larger a company grows, the more stable the culture needs to be. Looking into how successful companies and their CEO's (check out Morgan Chu on viadeo) can be a great resource of some tips and advice on the topic.

Create Team Incentives

On this note, any other measures that encourage a collaborative work environment can be helpful. Specifically, employees are usually more motivated when given collective incentives (which foster a goal-seeking atmosphere) rather than individualized incentives (which can lead to stress and inner-office competition).

Hopefully the tips can help you better motivate your employees in 2012. As a manager, it’s one of the most important things you can do. Good luck!

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