Make It Legal

One Of A Kind

When you only have one employee, keeping him or her motivated presents special challenges. Your employee has no one with whom to exchange ideas, discuss work problems or share a coffee break. Nor does he or she enjoy the momentum working with others can bring.

The good news: One doesn't have to be the loneliest number--not if you make a concerted effort to keep your solo employee both energized and happy. Bernard Liebowitz, a management consultant and organizational psychologist in Chicago, offers this five-step plan to keep your employee motivated:

1. Ask for input. "When employees feel their concerns are being addressed and their ideas respected, you have a highly motivated employee," says Liebowitz.

2. Be upfront. Employees become bored and critical when they don't know what's going on and feel left out. Keep your employee abreast of what he or she needs to know about your company. When you ask your employee for advice, tell him or her if you end up using it. The next time you ask for an opinion, your employee will be more eager to give it.

3. Be accommodating. When your business relies on one employee, you might have to make special allowances, such as giving him or her time off to attend a class or take a child to a doctor's appointment. Always try to be flexible.

4. Set the tone. Establish the ground rules from the start so your employee is aware of your boundaries. Make sure your employee knows how much authority or responsibility he or she has and clearly understands your expectations.

5. Always reward achievement. When your employee has an idea that helps you sell to a fussy client or resolve a vendor problem, it pays to give him or her praise, thanks and rewards. Before long, your employee will become your strongest ally.

By using Liebowitz' five-step plan, you'll have a more loyal and productive employee--and create a happier work environment for both of you.

Carla Goodman ( is a freelance writer in Sacramento, California.

Contact Sources

Liebowitz & Associates PC, (773) 334-2003,

Total Body Fitness, (916) 202-3006,

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This article was originally published in the December 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Make It Legal.

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