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Motivate Your Employees Or Team Members In 10 Easy Ways

Motivate Your Employees Or Team Members In 10 Easy Ways

When it comes to motivating employees, many employers think the only way to do it is by offering more money. Fortunately for your bank balance, that is rarely the case. In fact, according to a recent survey by BNET, now a part of CBSMoneywatch, when asked the question: “What motivates you at work?” Most people responded with something other than money.

“The results showed that doing something meaningful is more important than money or recognition to your employees. Twenty nine percent of respondents said that doing something meaningful was the most motivating thing about work. Money motivated 25 percent, and recognition 17 percent.”

So how can you motivate employees to work better? Try these ideas:

1. Career Path Exploration

You chose your employees because they are great at what they do, but maybe they don’t want to do that forever. Helping your employees grow and expand their responsibilities through additional training opportunities can be very motivating. Let your employees explore their options and find their own path. Maybe they really enjoy their job but want to be better at it — or maybe they’d like to try something different. Job shadow opportunities and classes can be very motivational and help your employees think they’re “getting somewhere.”

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2. Honor Their Personal Lives

Maybe you don’t want to know about your employees’ personal lives but honor the fact that they have one. If you know a mother has a child to pick up from school at the same time everyday and it’s not critical that she sit at her desk during that time, respect that and give her the chance to be there for her child too. If you know she’s a good employee and loves her job, she’ll love it even more if you let her come in early or work from home in the evenings so that she can do the things she needs to do for her children in the afternoon. Doing this will make her a loyal employee who values the work she does for you because you value how she divides her time.

3. Do Unto Others

This is the basic Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” How were you treated when you were an employee and not the president of the company or the owner? Was it bad? Do you wish it had been better? Was it good? Treat your employees as you wish to be treated and you will see the respect flow both ways.

4. Say Thank You

Whether you want to throw an employee recognition party or just pull someone into your office to express your gratitude, saying “thank you” is the single most important and motivating thing you can do for any employee. Write a quick note or an email. Let them know you are paying attention and appreciate the work they do. It takes less than 5 minutes and it can truly make someone’s day.

5. Hold Social Gatherings

Beyond the standard holiday party, try and hold social events for your employees. While everyone has a life outside the office, let’s face it, when you spend eight or 10 hours a day with the same people, you get to know them pretty well. It’s only natural that employees would want to hang out with each other after work. Have a volleyball tournament. Host a cookout. Go to the lake and have a campfire. Invite families. Make your work life a part of an overall “family-like” structure at work.

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6. Give Time Off

Nothing is less motivating than hearing “you don’t have days left in your schedule” when you need a day off. No matter what it’s for, allow your employees to make the call when it comes to taking a day off. According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

“Highly educated employees given autonomy over their own schedules end up working harder because they want to prove who can put in the most time at the office, University of Pennsylvania professor Alexandra Michel found (PDF) after spending 12 years studying the work habits of young executives at two large investment banks. Bankers, software engineers, and lawyers—so-called knowledge-based workers—often work more than 100 hours per week to the detriment of their health, even when nothing urgent demands their attention, she says.

“When employees feel they are required to work more, it motivates them to work less. When given more power to set their own pace, young bankers choose to work longer hours, take less vacation time, and sacrifice personal needs, Michel said in a study published in the summer issue of The Sociological Quarterly. Quoting one of her study subjects, Michel wrote: “When someone left before midnight, you’d hear comments like ‘half a day today?’”

7. Face Time

Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour, says, “When we had fewer than 25 employees, I brought the entire team together at least once a week. We’d talk about a lot of things, including major decisions that were on the table. I listened to everyone’s opinions, and, without fail, they’d bring up things I hadn’t thought of. More important, my team members knew that they were part of the process and that their voices mattered. Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued.”

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Bring employees into the room. Ask their opinions. Implement their ideas. It’s motivating to think you have some say in what goes on in your business.

8. Research and Development

Foster creativity and innovation by asking your employees to spend a percentage of each workweek exploring new things and brainstorming new ideas. Some days this might be just surfing the Internet, exploring a half-baked idea but other days could see an employee building a scale model of a new design for the whozit that might be the “next big thing.” Some days this kind of exploration might not go anywhere but other days it could mean the start of something big.

9. Don’t Micromanage

Chances are, unless they’re new to the job, your employee knows how to do the work your asking them to do. Nothing is less motivating than being supervised every step of the way — especially if it’s a task you’ve done a thousand times before. Let go. Let your employees do their work. If a mistake happens, allow your employee to take responsibility and fix it if they can. Think how much time this will free up for you too!

10. Hire “Engines.”

Kevin Plank likes to hire leaders. He calls them engines and they motivate other employees.

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“At Under Armour, I call them engines, and I place them strategically around the organization. Look for people who aren’t afraid to make the big, tough, decisions — people who want pressure and responsibility. They are innately passionate and inspired, and they make other people want to work hard for them. When you find people with these characteristics, use them wisely. They’ll certainly make your job easier, especially when it comes to keeping the rest of your team motivated.”

It’s important, especially in a large organization, to have those people who can help make things work. Motivate these people by letting them know how valuable they are.

Featured photo credit: NBC via i.huffpost.com

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Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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