Okay, you've hired the best, you're communicating and training the best -- how we have to learn to motivate the best! It's an art, a science and a skill that can be -- in fact must be -- learned if you truly want to be the best!

In my last article I covered communications, so it probably won't be a surprise to learn that communication is the heart and soul of motivating employees. Employees will be unmotivated when they are unsure of the manager's expectations and priorities. They will be motivated when managers provide clear expectations, instructions, information and time frames. This creates within the employees a sense of security, respect, trust, power and control in their jobs. Furthermore, managers need to communicate encouragement during the process as well as acknowledgement and appreciation on achievement of outcomes. If you fall short in this area or have questions, buy the paperback book "1001 Ways to Reward Employees" by Bob Nelson. It's a quick read and full of great information.

You'll find that productivity will increase when employees are presented with growth opportunities and challenges. Most employees, when given the chance to leave their comfort zones, benefit from the stimulation and enjoyment of a new challenge. They experience a sense of acceptance, fulfillment, power and recognition.

I like goals and incentives. Most people like to be given a target and when they hit that target there is some kind of reward. In showroom selling it's pretty easy to set monthly sales and gross profit (percentage and dollars) goals. It's easy to tie monetary rewards to these goals. As goals grow and are achieved, so does the money. This also gives the manager an opportunity to give each salesperson a monthly "report card" on his or her productivity.

Well-motivated people will be more prone to handling "problems." When an employee experiences a lack of freedom, choice and control in his or her job, the response is usually to play the role of the victim and blame others rather than accepting personal responsibility. Creative problem solving, based on the philosophy of employee involvement in task analysis, decision making and self-generated solutions, motivates the employee to take ownership of problems and responsibility for the success of the resolution.

Frequently, employees don't have the strategies in place to complete a task. It may be a lack of training or just being "hung up" on a particular situation. When this happens the employee will be less motivated - and will often experience stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Good managers will coach their employees. This will enable the employee to experience a sense of power and purpose, and will add to the employee's self-confidence. More importantly, during the process managers often help employees discover personal success strategies they can utilize on future projects. This leads to greater productivity, happier and more highly motivated employees.

I don't know if you've noticed, but all these "bests" that I've been talking about all tie together. The better trained the employees are, the more they will be motivated. The better you communicate, the more they will be motivated. And the better (not necessarily the biggest) you compensate, the more they will be motivated. So when you decide to really try and become the best, you won't be able to overlook any one of these areas.

You've probably witnessed and worked with employees who have become discouraged and unmotivated when they lacked the skills necessary to complete their responsibilities. This can be corrected by providing continuous training and growth opportunities. Managers can motivate employees by enhancing their self-esteem, which enables the employees to experience feelings of power and control in their jobs.

Here are a few ideas on how a manager can become a better


Motivation Comes From Caring - Not Scaring!

Fear should never be used as a motivation strategy. It may get you what you want now, but it will set you up for what you don't want in the future in the form of employee anger, resentment and lack of enthusiasm and commitment. When employees feel that managers care about them and that they are perceived as valuable members of the organizations, they are more cooperative, enthusiastic and committed to organizational goals, both now and in the future.

Employee Motivation Grows And Blossoms In The Right Environment

When employees feel nurtured, appreciated, acknowledged and respected, they'll give 100 percent of their time, effort and commitment in return. The job of the manager is to create a work environment that provides employees with the opportunity to attain their goals and experience what they value most in their professional lives. In this environment, communication is open and honest, coaching for success is ongoing, training and performance improvement is continuous and creative problem solving is a way of life.

Walk Your Talk

Modeling the behavior you want from your employees is the most effective way to change any behavior. If you want your employees to arrive on time, you have to do the same thing. As a manager you have to become aware of what motivates other people. Not all people are the same. The old saying "different strokes for different folks" definitely applies.

Make Work Fun

The research is clear: laughter is not only good for the soul, it's also good for the mind and body. Having fun is a basic human need, and when it's found at the workplace, productivity goes up. Bringing fun into the workplace lowers the stress levels and provides opportunities for employees to build rapport with each other - which is the foundation for successful team building.

Fostering An Ongoing Commitment

Motivating employees is an ongoing process because people are continually growing and changing. As they achieve something they want or value, they will then seek to achieve more of the same. If motivation is not kept on your managerial front burner, you'll see the fires in your employees slowly fade and die out.

I have both a Manager and an Employee Self-Assessment Form. If you want to know how you rate in this important area, send me an e-mail and I'll send it to you.

As mentioned before, learning all about motivation is an art and a skill. Why not make a commitment today to start learning and practicing this very important part of managing people? It will help you be the best.

Sidebar: The word "problem"

At my business I got tired of hearing employees talk about their "problems." The word has a strong negative connotation. So we discussed it in a staff meeting and all of us collectively agreed to eliminate the word "problem" from our business vocabulary. Instead, we substituted the word "situation" or "opportunity." We even went so far as to fine anyone who used the word "problem" twenty-five cents. It was amazing how fast we eliminated our "problems" -- and only had situations and opportunities. It was also amazing how our attitudes and outlooks changed for the positive! This is a good example of effective communication that also helped in motivation.