People Practices that Motivate

Shawnee Love   •
September 13, 2019

We know that highly engaged and motivated employees work better, harder, faster, smarter. We also know that their efforts create happy customers which leads to profit and growth. What we don’t always know is how to create highly engaged people.

In  my opinion, engagement isn’t a big secret, or at least it shouldn’t be. All we have to do is follow the golden rule and:

Treat people as they would like to be treated.

Beyond that, people have to find their own motivation.

But treating people as they would like to be treated is not always easy because sometimes how they want to be treated:

  1. Isn’t how your organization treats people.
  2. Isn’t a fit with the job or the team standards or expectations.
  3. Takes time to get there.
  4. Isn’t something they fully understand or know how to communicate.
  5. Isn’t realistic.

To avoid these situations we have the following suggestions:

When hiring, find people who like what your company does and believe in the values, vision and mission. Yes, that means sometimes you don’t hire the most talented person but instead find people who are a good fit and train. It also means that you have to ensure your hiring practices (interviews, reference checks, tests, etc.) actually weed out people who don’t believe and/or aren’t a fit.  It also means you have to soul search who your company wants to be and who fits your company.

During orientation, ensure you assimilate people not only into their jobs, but also into the social network and culture by telling them about your business and how you do business and work together.  These connections help people learn what is possible and how to find their niches.

Ensure you communicate effectively. Communication is a huge weakness in many organizations and it isn’t because people don’t talk a lot, it is because those doing the talking don’t take the time to ensure that everyone fully understood what they meant to say. In larger companies I also see so much is lost in translation between the C-Suite and the employees on the front lines, so executives take the time to either go directly to the front lines or ensure your middle managers are completely immersed in what you are trying to achieve.  Also, practice listening and make the feedback loop, where people ask questions and repeat back what they think they heard, part of everyday life.

Get to know your employees. Build a relationship so they learn to trust you and become loyal to you. Give them the same in return.

Empower your people to take ownership by knowing the roles they play in the success of the company, and charging them with doing what it takes in order to be successful (within the values and rules of the company of course).

Support and learn from mistakes. I am a fan of the debrief after projects and new initiatives to talk about what went well, and what we need to do better next time. Then, put together a group of people and make them responsible for ensuring it doesn’t happen again both by developing a better plan AND by teaching the rest of the organization what they learned.

Discuss your employee’s performance constructively. Stay focused on the positive but don’t be afraid of giving honest criticism if it comes from the place of helping someone improve and be more successful.  In these discussions, ask about expectations and where you as manager and the company are meeting the employees’ expectations and not.   That will help you coach people through what is possible and put some realistic parameters around getting there.

Train and develop your people to help them progress on their own career paths. Invest in their futures. Not only will they bring their enhanced skills to work everyday, but the law of reciprocity says they will want to give back.  At the same time, don’t string people along if they will never get there.  It is so disheartening for employees to think they are going to get opportunities which never come to fruition.

Thank your employees and ensure they know how much you value them by telling them often what they have done well.

What do you do to help your people get motivated?