What people want from their jobs and what managers think employees want can be very different things. But if you understand these differences and then implement eight basic strategies for helping employees get what they want from their work, morale and productivity are sure to rise.
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First, here's how the managers and employees view 10 motivators (with 1 being most important):
|MOTIVATOR ||Supervisor's Ranking of |
|Employee Ranking of |
|High wages ||1 ||5 |
|Job security ||2 ||4 |
|Promotion potential ||3 ||7 |
|Good working conditions ||4 ||9 |
|Interesting work ||5 ||6 |
|Personal loyalty of supervisor ||6 ||8 |
|Tactful discipline ||7 ||10 |
|Appreciation of work done ||8 ||1 |
|Help with personal problems ||9 ||3 |
|Feeling of being in on things ||10 ||2 |
Now, here are eight things you can do to help ensure employees get what they want from their work:
1. Ask for employee help in setting goals
Ask employees for their help in setting department or company goals. Then ask them for their advice about how to actually achieve those goals.
Getting employees to "buy into" the company's goals is the best way to ensure that those goals become reality. Also, the people who are involved, day in and day out, in the inner workings of your company probably have a good idea of what kind of problems they will encounter in pursuit of the goals. They may also have a good idea how to overcome these problems.
2. Distribute the workload and hours fairly
The key word here is "fair." You want to be consistent in everything you do. Every employee should get the same opportunities to work overtime, and everyone should also have hours cut in a similar fashion.
Sticking one or two people with all the work creates bad morale. Those who get dumped on will be universally unhappy, while those with a light workload may get labeled as "teacher's pets" by the other employees. A follow-up to this rule is to be friendly to employees without being their friend. To paraphrase Bess Truman's famous quip about our nation's capital, "If you want a friend, get a dog."
3. Honor people's schedules for lunch, breaks and going home
As with being fair in all things, respect your employees' lunch time, breaks and quitting time. Even the best employees need a break during the workday. If you barge into your employee's lunch hour, you will get the employee's attention but not the best possible work. Also respect when employees go home. One of the biggest complaints on "I hate my boss" Web sites involves bosses who expect employees to stay late at the last minute. Remember that your employees have personal lives, too.
4. Give immediate (and private) feedback
None of us wants to work all day on a project only to find that we have wasted our time. When you assign work, ask the employee to check in at the beginning of the project so you can give immediate feedback. Also, don't criticize your employees in public. It's humiliating and un-motivating. The old management mantra is true: "Praise in public and criticize in private."
5. Praise employees and recognize their contributions
When employees in your small business do good work, praise them in public, preferably in front of their co-workers. Even if you're just a manager in someone else's small company, make sure that the boss knows about the contributions of your team on a key project or goal. This works to your advantage, as well: When people on your team do well, the owner will assume that it's because you are such a good motivator.
6. Be honest about what's going on and expect your employees to do the same
Honesty really is the best policy with employees. No matter how large or small the company, the employee grapevine has probably already spread word of the impending job cuts or possible sale of the company, so level with them as much as you can.
If you are honest about what's going on in the business, your employees will, in turn, be honest with you about their concerns. This give and take will make communication in your team or company infinitely easier.
7. Don't be afraid to share a good laugh—especially at yourself
While it's never good idea to laugh at an employee, it's almost always a good idea to laugh at yourself. A hearty laugh can diffuse difficult situations and make you seem more human to those who report to you. Also, admit that you don't know all the answers. This trait will make it easier for employees to come clean about their own mistakes to you.
8. Listen attentively
Those "I hate my boss" Web sites are full of complaints about managers who just don't listen. So pay attention to what a person has to say. Don't tap your foot waiting for your turn to talk. Don't interrupt so that you can talk sooner. Really listen.
Happy, motivated employees always note that they have bosses who listen to their ideas and concerns. And since small businesses can't afford to have even one unmotivated employee, listening is even more essential when staffs are small.
And finally, if these suggestions add up to one golden rule, it is this: Be the kind of employee that you want your employees to be.
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