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Taking Steps to Keep Employee Motivation Going

written by: Mike Sweeney•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 7/19/2011

How do you keep employees energized and excited about their jobs? What strategies do you use? There are a few proven steps you can take to help maintain employee motivation and morale. Learn what these key steps are and how you can implement them in your organization.

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    Employee Traits

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    The caliber and talent of employees will play a large role in determining what steps to take to maintain employee motivation. There’s a good chance you’ll have a variety of personalities and differing levels of self-motivation. It’s for these reasons that you want to learn as much as you can about each employee.

    What are the types of things that get them motivated at work?

    Is it the type of work performed on a daily basis, taking on new projects and responsibilities, achieving certain tasks, career promotions, cross-training, taking leadership positions, traveling to new locations--what is it exactly? Knowing this information is helpful in determining what you can do to keep everyone motivated.

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    Coaching

    Coaching employees on a day-to-day basis is always an important step in maintaining employee motivation. Keeping the communication lines open is a smart way to continue to learn more about what motivates your employees.

    Based on what you learn about what motivates an employee, you can then create coaching sessions to assist this person in achieving those activities that you know will clearly keep the employee motivated and engaged. In addition to specific tasks, assignments, and projects, also coach the developmental areas that will help the employee gain additional skills and confidence. These could be areas as simple as listening or presenting more effectively.

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    Positive Reinforcement

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    Positive reinforcement is another important step and is valuable on several different levels. Employees need feedback to know where they stand in the organization. Too often, managers don’t hesitate to provide negative feedback or talk about a deficiency, but they become reluctant to provide positive feedback or reinforcement.

    Think about where you make your best decisions in life. Most people make their best decisions when they are feeling positive and confident. Take that same thinking and apply it to the job. You want confident, positive employees, so make sure you provide reinforcing feedback to help mold those behaviors.

    Also, as a part of the overall coaching process, positive feedback is very effective in reinforcing specific activities or goals that have originated in previous coaching sessions. Referencing these sessions shows the employee that you not only care about his or her achievements, but you are actually out there observing what’s going on and willing to say something positive about it. That’s pretty impressive to most people.

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    Work Atmosphere

    The atmosphere the employee works in goes a long way toward creating the right frame of mind to be motivated. A positive, vibrant atmosphere encourages the employee to be in the same frame of mind. Developing this type of work atmosphere is an easy step for most people. Frequently evaluate the atmosphere or culture in the office, and make the necessary adjustments to encourage only positive types of behaviors.

    Listen to the vocabulary being used, watch how employees treat each other, look at the attendance levels, and see how well people are listening to each other. Is the work atmosphere something that employees are enthused about? Does it look and sound like the employees are glad to be at work? It’s much easier to motivate employees in a positive atmosphere rather than a negative one.

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    Team Charter

    Every team and organization should have a charter in place. It’s a way for employees to share information with each other while also providing team members with a forum for open and honest communication. This can help uncover any issues that may be demotivating to team members. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to review the types of things that are currently working in motivating team members.

    The team charter should include three basic categories – what to continue doing; what to stop doing; and what to start doing: Pretty simple. In each category, break out the information by people-related and job-related activities.

    Here's a brief example using the continue category.

    Under continue doing, job related, you could write or discuss that the team does a lot of cross-training. Since it's under the continue category, that’s a positive response and sounds like it keeps people positively motivated. So you want to be sure to continue to do the cross-training as a way to keep team members engaged and enthused.

    Also as an example under the continue category, this time people-related: anniversaries and project milestones are positively acknowledged. These are positive and motivating gestures that have an immediate impact on people’s behaviors, and should also be kept in place.

    Every 90 days or so, sit down with the team and do a quick review of each of the categories. Make whatever adjustments need to be made during the meeting and gauge the reactions of the attendees. If you are consistent in your meetings, these sessions should be motivating for the employees as well as extremely informative.