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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 June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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