State and Restate the Mission of Your OrganizationEnsure that everyone understands it and sees how their individual work fits into attaining it. If employees don't know where the company or the leader is headed, then confusion, ambiguity and even chaos reign. Bad news for everyone. The mission needs to be concrete and future-oriented. It must describe where the organization wants to go and what it wants to do. It must be motivating enough so that employees will want to work hard to make that mission a reality. Each department, team, unit and individual must clearly understand why the company exists: to make money, to do good for the community, to create a quality product and so on. Once the mission is clear, and once everyone understands it, then they can create goals that strive to fulfill the mission. All goals, all behaviors and all policies will then be geared toward organizational success.
Get Out Of Your OfficeWalk around, meet your employees face-to-face and get to know them. Unfortunately, many leaders and managers stay within their comfort zone in their office or cubicle. It's easier that way. They work on their projects without interruption, they don't have to deal with "difficult" employees, and they don't have to answer challenging questions or resolve unusual issues. These are loser bosses. When bosses don't walk around, they miss out on a chance to get to know the employees, understand their difficulties, remove obstacles in the way of success and boost morale. And the employees miss out on an important opportunity to make contact with their leader. They don't see the boss as approachable, available to answer questions or there to resolve problems. This lack of interaction creates a serious gap. Productivity, employee satisfaction and morale all suffer. Inevitably, the employee soon learns that the boss doesn't really care about their job or them. And if the person in charge doesn't care, why should they?
Set Specific, Measurable and Attainable GoalsThe boss needs to be very clear about what the goals are for each department and each individual employee. And all of those goals need to address the mission. There are several key ways to accomplish this. The major issue is clarity.
- The goal needs to be specific so the employee knows exactly what is acceptable and what is not, and how to be successful. A goal of "Go out and do a good job" is not specific enough to be meaningful. Do you mean "Be at work on time"? "Have reports in by 3 p.m."? "Work more collaboratively with others"?
- The goal needs to be measurable so that both the employee and the boss can evaluate if the goal has been met. "Increase sales this quarter" is a nice idea, but it's useless as a goal. Do you mean "Boost sales by 10 percent, 25 percent or 75 percent"?
- The goal needs to be attainable. This is where new employees, eager to be successful, often fall short. The boss needs to work closely with each employee to ensure that goals are within reach.
Recognize Effort and SuccessAnd make sure to share that news with others. Someone once said, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions." Providing feedback and letting employees know how much you value their work is a key source of motivation. Everyone, including the altruists among us, wants and likes feedback. Find opportunities to spread good news. Everyone will benefit--especially the people whom you are identifying and praising. And others will benefit because they will strive to be recognized by you. Consider:
- Sending an e-mail congratulating the individual. In addition, personally meet with that person and tell him/her how you value and appreciate the accomplishment (and even the attempt).
- Sending an e-mail to other people on the team, in the unit or in the company announcing the success, even if it's a small success. Little successes ultimately lead to bigger ones.
- Clearly mentioning the accomplishment at the next team, department and company meeting.
- Putting a note in that person's personnel file.
- Making sure the employee's manager realizes the success and remembers to write it in his/her performance appraisal review.
- Putting a notice in the company newsletter.
- Sending an announcement to the local newspaper.
Observe and AskThere are many theories on how to motivate employees and even more about what actually motivates people. The best way is the simplest: just observe and ask!
- Ask what kind of tasks the person likes best. Challenging? Easy? Complex? Creative? Repetitious? Concrete? Abstract?
- Find out if the employee prefers to work alone or with a team. And in which scenario is he/she most productive?
- Determine what you as the boss can do to remove obstacles in the way of ensuring high performance.
- Observe how effective and efficient the person is with different kinds of tasks, individually and on teams.
- Determine the person's level of accuracy and productivity with different kinds of tasks and with different individuals.
Ask if the employee needs/prefers intensive guidelines and feedback or works best with fewer directions and responses.