3 Tips for How to Properly Motivate Employees

By Ryan Morris - Feb. 26, 2018

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Time and time again, bosses in all industries have continued to encounter the same big problem:

Namely, how are they supposed to motivate their employees to work better and more efficiently?

It’s one that can, at times, stump even the most effective managers, as it often forces managers to interact with employees on an individual level.

Which many managers are, surprisingly enough, kinda bad at.

But if you’re one of these upper-level managers struggling to figure out how best to motivate your employees, have no fear.

Your friends here at Zippia have put together a little guide to help you do just that.


1. Why You Should Give More Thought to How You Motivate Your Employees

It can be more difficult than you realize to properly motivate employees. That’s because, for the most part, the lessons we learn for how to do so are incorrect.

By default, we usually try to motivate employees as a team, which can make it difficult to actually accomplish your goals.

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You see, trying to alter morale at that level is difficult because you don’t really have any control over your team’s relationships to one another, or on how they work together in general.

What you do have control over, however, are your relationships with individual employees.

It’s much easier to cultivate a supportive environment in general through small acts of making employees feel welcome and valued than it is to try to effect sweeping change on a higher level.

The issue here, of course, is that not everyone has the best people skills — even good managers don’t always know the best ways to relate to their employees in a way that’s genuinely motivating.

Fortunately, we’ve got some tips for you in that department.

2. Common Mistakes Bosses Make When Trying to Motivate Their Employees

Before we get into what you ought to be doing, let’s start with what most managers get wrong about motivating employees.

In general, poorly motivated employees are the fault of a bad manager, and a bad manager is one that doesn’t take the time to figure out what their individual employees are trying to get out of their jobs.

So if you think you’re trying pretty hard as it is to motivate your employees, take a breath and think about how much time you’ve really spent figuring out what makes them tick — you might find that you’ve been approaching the situation from the wrong perspective.

Here are some big things you should avoid doing when trying to motivate your employees:

  • Be careful of being too random or opaque regarding your process for recognizing your employees’ contributions — if employees feel like they have no real idea why a particular person is being selected for praise, then odds are pretty good they’re not going to try particularly hard to earn that praise.
  • Don’t be too autocratic in the way you run things. Your employees need enough autonomy to feel like they’re being trusted to do their job correctly, which for you might mean stepping back a little bit and giving them some additional say in how they do their jobs.
  • On the other side of things, make sure that you aren’t seeming like too much of a pushover while you’re motivating your employees. It’s one thing to make some concessions in order to ensure that the people who work with you feel trusted, but it’s another thing entirely when you accidentally forgo your own responsibilities to keep things running smoothly in the process.

3. Ways That You Can Effectively Motivate Your Employees

So now that you know all the things you shouldn’t do, what are the things that you definitely ought to be doing?

Employee satisfaction is tough to build. It takes understanding each of your employees’ wants and needs intimately, which is something that can take awhile to figure out even for the best managers.

But it also takes the existence of a generally supportive employee culture in order to exist — so don’t be surprised if, at first, your efforts to build motivation for your employees don’t take right away.

Here are a few things you should absolutely do while trying to motivate your employees:

  • Offer advancement opportunities for your employees, and be clear about how people are able to achieve these advancements. Nobody wants to work in a jbo where they feel like they aren’t going anywhere. And don’t worry about where they’ll go once they advance — building a reputation for having a good culture will ensure that you always have applicants at the ready to bring on once someone working with you becomes ready for the next stage. And in general, places with better culture have lower turnover anyways.
  • Communicate with your employees more often, and (if you can) better. Face to face communication is a big part of this. If they feel like you’re being genuinely attentive to the problems they’re facing on the job, it’ll go a long way toward feeling like you’re supporting them. Just be careful not to go too far in this, or they might start seeing you as more of a micromanager than a supporter.
  • In addition to advancement opportunities, you should also ensure that your company provides the correct incentives to ensure that employees feel motivated in the short term as well as the long term. These incentives can be little, from small gifts to even just cash rewards. But the point is to use them in natural, consistent ways to ensure that employees feel like they’re being genuinely rewarded for their hard work.

Wrapping Up:

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind:

One of the biggest things to remember is that even if you feel like your company’s culture isn’t already conducive to having good employee motivation, there are things that you can be doing every day to change this.

A good corporate culture isn’t a thing that just springs up overnight — it takes time to build.

But as a manager, you have a more concrete effect on this process that you might realize.

So even if a supportive employee culture feels far off, don’t feel like taking any of the steps outlined in this article is futile — just give it time, and be sure to communicate to your employees somehow that you’re aware of the problem and are taking steps to correct things.

Odds are that they already know what’s going on, and will appreciate your honesty.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

3 Big Tips For Giving Your Boss a Gift
3 Tips for Asking (And Answering) Intern Interview Questions
7 Reasons You Have No Motivation to Work and How to Overcome Them

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Ryan Morris


Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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