Motivating Employees

Definition: Using both tangible and nontangible rewards to keep employees enthusiastic, loyal and interested in continual improvement

It's hard to overemphasize the importance of having enthusiastic, committed employees. A well-motivated work force will almost always allow a company to grow faster than one that's lackadaisical or even prone to sabotaging your growth initiatives.

Everybody who works for you needs to know where they stand and how they're doing compared to your expectations of them. Many companies have formal review systems to let employees know how their performances stack up. Reviews may be conducted as often as every three months, but annual reviews are most popular.

Each review should go over the goals that were set when the employee started the job or during the last performance evaluation. Then the review should examine how well the employee has done toward reaching these goals. The employee should be asked to rate his or her performance, in addition to relying on objective measurements such as sales figures. You and the employee should then discuss the desirability of trying to reach goals that haven't yet been achieved, and you should both set goals for the future.

But reviews and evaluations are--often justifiably--viewed as little more than formalities that accomplish little or nothing in the way of true feedback. To make formal evaluations go more smoothly, and to eliminate any surprises on the employee's part, give feedback at the time something occurs to warrant it.

Don't underestimate the power of feedback. It should be simple, honest and unfailingly constructive. Try to make sure that every piece of feedback you provide contains the following elements. It should:

  • Highlight something good the employee has accomplished
  • Point out something that needs improvement
  • Contain specific suggestions about how the employee can improve

Don't neglect to say something positive. Even making note of the amount of effort the employee has expended can make the employee more receptive to feedback. If you can't think of a positive comment and specific suggestions for improvement, it's better to say nothing.

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