February 24, 2012 | Print this Page.

No matter how things are going for a company, a motivated workforce propels a company through bumpy roads and leads to more successes. Motivation makes it possible to create a culture consisting of hard-working employees who are passionate about the company and growing the business.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, says the carrot and stick approach doesn't work. He explains the secret to improved performance "is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world." This video describes the concepts in Drive.

Not all leaders have a natural ability to motivate employees. They can recruit others to help in the cause (see #3) and pick up a few ideas here.

Here are 10 ways to motivate and empower employees.

1. Recognize employees.

This costs nothing and packs a punch in raising morale. Praise and thank employees for solving problems, taking great care of customers and meeting deadlines. Show appreciation for employees in both one-on-one and group settings.

2. Hold company parties.

Holiday parties don't count. Bringing employees together in a relaxing environment allows them feel more connected to the company and each other. You can throw a party on a budget.

3. Turn everyone into a leader.

Being a leader isn't the same thing as being a manager. Great leaders set an example for others. Start by telling your best performers what they do well and that you appreciate their being the best they can be as well as setting high standards for others to follow.

4. Offer profit sharing.

When employees have a stake in the company, they'll do what they can to ensure the company profits so they benefit.

5. Encourage complaints.

Yes, you want to feedback from customers so you can better serve them, but also do the same for employees. Tell employees that you can't fix things if you don't get complaints. Use a mistake to show your employees you're serious about tackling -- not attacking -- problems, complaints and criticisms. They should not fear retaliation or their jobs. Create an online form that lets them anonymously submit complaints.

6. Do pro bono work for nonprofits.

During slow times, offer your services to nonprofits. Not only do employees stay busy while maintaining skills, but also they do good for others. Better yet, make it a regular thing -- not just for slow times.

7. Do lunch.

Every week, take a different employee out for lunch. They'll feel appreciated.

8. Skip pointing fingers.

What does finger pointing accomplish? If anything, it deflates a person's self-esteem and does the opposite of motivating them. Instead, something goes wrong, ask questions to encourage employees figure out a better way to work through a problem or task. They'll learn from the mistake without anyone pointing it out. Above all, never criticize an employee in front of others.

9. Empower employees with autonomy.

Employees need autonomy according to Daniel Pink. This means letting employees have the power to decide what they do and with whom. Rather than telling employees what to do, effective managers clearly share expectations and explain why the outcome of is important to the company. Then, step aside and trust employees to figure out how to get there.

10. Focus on making everyone happy.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's approach has created a culture of happiness that works low paid employees. He explains his process in his book Delivering Happiness.

What other ways can you motivate employees? Does it make a difference? What has motivated you?

No matter how things are going for a company, a motivated workforce propels a company through bumpy roads and leads to more successes. Motivation makes it possible to create a culture consisting of hard-working employees who are passionate about the company and growing the business.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, says the carrot and stick approach doesn't work. He explains the secret to improved performance "is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world." This video describes the concepts in Drive.

Not all leaders have a natural ability to motivate employees. They can recruit others to help in the cause (see #3) and pick up a few ideas here.

Here are 10 ways to motivate and empower employees.

1. Recognize employees.

This costs nothing and packs a punch in raising morale. Praise and thank employees for solving problems, taking great care of customers and meeting deadlines. Show appreciation for employees in both one-on-one and group settings.

2. Hold company parties.

Holiday parties don't count. Bringing employees together in a relaxing environment allows them feel more connected to the company and each other. You can throw a party on a budget.

3. Turn everyone into a leader.

Being a leader isn't the same thing as being a manager. Great leaders set an example for others. Start by telling your best performers what they do well and that you appreciate their being the best they can be as well as setting high standards for others to follow.

4. Offer profit sharing.

When employees have a stake in the company, they'll do what they can to ensure the company profits so they benefit.

5. Encourage complaints.

Yes, you want to feedback from customers so you can better serve them, but also do the same for employees. Tell employees that you can't fix things if you don't get complaints. Use a mistake to show your employees you're serious about tackling -- not attacking -- problems, complaints and criticisms. They should not fear retaliation or their jobs. Create an online form that lets them anonymously submit complaints.

6. Do pro bono work for nonprofits.

During slow times, offer your services to nonprofits. Not only do employees stay busy while maintaining skills, but also they do good for others. Better yet, make it a regular thing -- not just for slow times.

7. Do lunch.

Every week, take a different employee out for lunch. They'll feel appreciated.

8. Skip pointing fingers.

What does finger pointing accomplish? If anything, it deflates a person's self-esteem and does the opposite of motivating them. Instead, something goes wrong, ask questions to encourage employees figure out a better way to work through a problem or task. They'll learn from the mistake without anyone pointing it out. Above all, never criticize an employee in front of others.

9. Empower employees with autonomy.

Employees need autonomy according to Daniel Pink. This means letting employees have the power to decide what they do and with whom. Rather than telling employees what to do, effective managers clearly share expectations and explain why the outcome of is important to the company. Then, step aside and trust employees to figure out how to get there.

10. Focus on making everyone happy.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's approach has created a culture of happiness that works low paid employees. He explains his process in his book Delivering Happiness.

What other ways can you motivate employees? Does it make a difference? What has motivated you?

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