People typically leave a company for one of three reasons. The first is that they don’t see themselves as a good fit for the business, or feel that their work matters. The second is that they haven’t forged close enough bonds with their co-workers, or established enough respect for them. But the third and most common reason is that they’re unhappy with their boss, which in up to 75% of cases is the single driving factor.
Good managers can be invaluable motivators, and really make a difference when it comes to energising and inspiring their teams. Increasingly, research shows that although receiving a good basic pay is important to most people, it’s the more emotional factors that count, such as having a boss they like. While a pay rise or bonus can provide a short term boost in performance, ultimately such incentives have been found to offer no long term value in driving staff to work harder. Research from the Institute of Leadership & Management found that people’s enjoyment of their role was the single most effective motivator, with 59% rating it as one of their top three motivators. Other emotional factors such as getting on with their colleagues (42%), how well they are treated by their managers (22%) and how much control they have over their work (22%) also rated highly.
The GoToMeeting guide How top managers motivate and energise employees is available for download and packed with tips and techniques on how to keep a team happy and motivated. But if you’re short on time, here is a quick digest of our top takeaways from the report…
1. Understand what demotivates your employees
Without wanting to dwell on negatives, it’s important for managers to recognise the most common reasons why employees feel demotivated or underappreciated.
A lack of career progression is often behind employee unhappiness. It’s the responsibility of a good manager to make sure staff have the opportunity to move forward with their careers, and that those doing a good job get rewarded.
Additionally, poor relationships with colleagues can also lead to an unhealthy and uncomfortable working environment, and make collaboration and team working tricky. Managers should work with HR to ensure likeminded individuals are brought into the organisation, and that efforts are made to create a happy company culture, where staff want to stay. At Google, for example, human resources, or ‘people operations’, is a science, where they’re always testing to find ways to optimise their people, both in terms of happiness and performance.
2. Recognise team members when they do a good job
In the past, companies have spent a fortune on financial incentives for staff, but a recent study found that only 13% of individuals are motivated by larger pay. When it comes to job satisfaction, there are more cost-effective ways to motivate staff, which can include more emotional factors relating to culture, community and recognition. Understanding your employees and what makes them tick is vital to building an energised and happy workforce. Sometimes a simple “well done” or “great work” on successful completion of a project, can go a long way in boosting an individual’s morale.
3. Take a personal approach with your employees, and set realistic expectations for them
Staff can easily feel frustrated when managers line up tough or unachievable goals. Failing to reach the ambitions set for them as individuals, or for their team, can quickly make employees feel undervalued.
Providing regular one-to-ones, and taking a personal, honest approach to staff appraisals, can be a significant motivator. Instead of viewing them as a formal judgement of performance, managers should use appraisals as an opportunity to get to know the member of staff personally, to understand what inspires and interests them, and learn about their career goals.
Furthermore, employees need to feel comfortable communicating personal and work-based issues with management. Having an open door policy, which employees are comfortable using, will help to create a happy environment.
4. Foster an entrepreneurial atmosphere throughout the business
One of the most effective strategies for keeping a team energised is to encourage a culture of creativity and innovation, as well as nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit.
One of the ways in which managers can support this is to create an open work environment, where employees feel like they have a voice and a say in the decision-making process. Managers can encourage collaboration between departments or individual team members, and hold regular forums where staff can air their ideas. By demonstrating that management is open to change, staff will feel motivated and find it easier to define their place within the business.
5. Instead of managing day-to-day performance, focus on nurturing future leaders
Only 40% of employees say they are well informed of their company’s goals, strategy and tactics, which is a missed opportunity. Good managers should take a more open and collaborative approach, and get their team working towards shared goals wherever possible. When an individual understands the butterfly effect their work or contribution has within a business, it can have a dramatic effect on their motivation levels, and equip them with the skills needed to lead people in the future.
For a deeper look into this topic, download the free guide How top managers motivate and energise employees.