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"Why do I always have to tell her what to do?"
"I'm always looking over their shoulders. Otherwise, they wouldn't get anything done!"
"How come they put in work that they know isn't good enough?"
"What can I do to make them take pride in their job?"
"He looks so good on paper. Why isn't he delivering for me?"
Having trouble raising employee self expectations and motivation? Do any of the above complaints sound like something you might say? Believe me, I've heard it all before and I sympathize with you. Here are my top 10 tips for making your workforce happy, inspired and self-upgrading.
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1. Be what you want them to be
Before you do anything else, I'd like you to take a long, hard look at yourself and your leadership style. Do some honest self-assessment. Are you an inspiration to your employees? Do you have all the qualities you're looking for in the people who work under you? There is a direct correlation between how your employees perform and your own attitudes and the example you set.
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2. Make your work environment comfortable
I've never known an uncomfortable, stressed employee to be self-motivating. When someone spends a large chunk of their day, every day, in a space they don't like—physically or emotionally—they will not perform at their best. As an employer it becomes your duty to give your workers a workplace they like coming to; a place they look forward to when they leave the comforts of home in the morning.
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3. Be clear about your expectations
In my years as consultant, I've seen that companies generally have trouble with employee motivation because subordinates are not clear about what their superiors expect from them.
Define your employees' roles and key responsibility areas. Tell them in no uncertain terms what part they play in the larger picture. Make them totally aware of their functions, their powers and their limits.
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4. Tell them why
If the employee knows why he's doing what he does, he's more likely to do it in the manner you want him to.
In fact, if he knows why he is to do something, he may surprise you by finding a better way to do it than you could have conceived. After all, he's the one doing the job day in and day out and therefore he knows the process better than you do.
The truth is that most people in organizations are told what to do and the process they have to follow and most people do their jobs without understanding why. It's no good being clear about what you want a worker to do if he doesn't know why he's doing it.
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5. Believe in them
You hired them because something in their qualifications and experience told you they'd be good at their job. You hired them after due process. Now you have to believe in their capabilities and you have to give them the time and space to deliver.
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Be clear and consistent in your policies and expectations, be transparent about your processes and then let them do their job. Let them make a few mistakes and learn from them. Stop looking over their shoulders; stand behind them, instead.
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7. Know them
Interact with your employees frequently—both formally and informally. Make the effort to know them, their families, their talents and hobbies and other things that are important to them.
Give them both positive and constructive feedback on their work. Take the time to explain your actions as much as possible. Take them into confidence; gain agreement and consensus from them, especially for tough and unpopular decisions. Make them feel like they're a vital part of you and the organization and that their views and opinions are valuable to you.
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8. Challenge them
Expect more from them, not less. Raise the bar. Don’t be too easily satisfied and don't let them get complacent.
Raising employee self expectations and motivation is also a matter of instilling self-confidence and self-belief in your workforce. Like the little train in the children's book, they need to be able to say: "I know I can. I know I can." and believe it in their hearts.
Like the little train, they also need to know why they must cross the mountain—give a growth trajectory to aim for as they chug their way to conquer mountains for you.
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9. Invest in them
Look at your workers as your best resource. Invest your time and effort on them. Train, coach and mentor them. Build a team that is cooperative rather than competitive; make your team realize the value and worth of every member. Give them opportunities to develop their strengths and let them discover the heady feeling of self-actualization.
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10. Reward generously and consistently
There's nothing more motivating to an employee than recognition from his superior. Small, personal rewards given consistently and fairly will make a big difference and raising your employees' self-expectations and motivation will no longer be a problem in your organization.
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The Final Summary
Remember who creates the "force" that makes your organization "work"—your workforce.
When you are a leader of a workforce, you obviously can't afford to forget the work but neither can you neglect the people—the force—who make that work happen.