Employee Motivational Challenge

Most business owners instinctively understand the value of a highly motivated workforce.  Motivated employees tend to be happier and are more productive, with each employee adding more to the company’s bottom line.  Turnover rates tend to be lower and everyone in the company tends to work better as a team, with fewer turf wars and less infighting. 

Those are all good things but finding ways to get and keep your employees motivated can prove to be a daunting challenge.  We understand that, which is why this article exists.  Below, we’ll provide some helpful, hard-hitting tips designed to help you elevate the motivational level of your employees to the next level and beyond.  Let’s jump right in and take a closer look!

Understanding Hierarchy

A fair percentage of business owners tend to micromanage their operation in the beginning.  It’s not hard to see how and why that happens because in the earliest days of the company, it’s often just you, the owner, or you and a tiny group of like-minded individuals.

Under those conditions, it’s generally possible to keep tabs on everything at once.  Sure, it requires wearing a number of different hats, but it’s possible.

As your business expands though, you have to get comfortable with delegating authority.  Unfortunately, the pendulum can swing too far the other direction and you can easily wind up feeling disconnected inside your own business.  Things get worse if some of the top managers you rely on aren’t the best picks and tend to take a light-handed approach too.

If that happens, it can easily create a situation where there aren’t clearly defined roles and responsibilities.  There isn’t a clearly defined chain of command.  At that point, you’ll wind up with a motley collection of employees stepping up, trying to exert authority they don’t have, while others tend to mill about aimlessly.  With no leader to guide them, they feel lost and confused.

In other words, it’s a chaotic mess, and that’s no way to run a business.

If any of the above rings familiar in your ear as it relates to your own business, there are several things you can do to begin addressing that problem, including:

  • Clarify and codify your company’s goals and objectives
  • Be clear and concise when giving directives, or when your management team hands them out
  • Have a clearly defined chain of command and be sure the managers you rely on most are all the best quality you can find and afford
  • And clearly define the job duties and responsibilities for each of your employees

Lack of Autonomy

Although having a clearly defined management structure and clearly defined roles are both important, business is all about balance and as we mentioned above, it’s important not to go too far in that direction.  Your best employees enjoy a structured work environment but also enjoy a certain amount of freedom.

It can be both challenging and terrifying to allow your employees the freedom to identify projects that are important to your business, then allow them to pursue them, and in fairness, it’s not something you can do across the board.  For your star performers though, greater autonomy can motivate in ways that a bigger paycheck simply can’t compete with because it connects your employees more intimately to the work they’re doing and makes them feel like an even more integral part of the company.  It’s hard to put a price on how valuable that is to you as an owner.

No Sense Of Challenge

Bored and listless employees aren’t very motivated.  How can they be, really? 

This is a much bigger challenge than first meets the eye, because at the end of the day, some types of work just aren’t very interesting.  Interesting or not though, it still has to be done, so what to do about that?

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to meet this challenge, including:

  • Automating boring, repetitive tasks as much as possible.  Note that this may include giving one of your star employees the autonomy to come up with and implement the means of doing so!
  • Mixing more interesting tasks in with the less interesting ones
  • Making sure you hire employees with skill sets they’ll actually get to use while they’re in your employ.
  • Offer your employees a variety of professional development options, then give them the freedom to use the new skills they learn along the way
  • Promoting from within to reward hard, creative work
  • And of course, hiring the right people to begin with.

To Many Conflicts

Is your company a hostile work environment?  Does it feel like stepping into the wild west?  Is a typical day in your office filled with bickering and open disagreement?  If so, that’s a major problem and you should know that it’s sucking the motivation right out of most of your employees.

Some people thrive on conflict but the simple truth is that most don’t.  Part of the problem may lie with you, so to solve this issue will require a bit of soul searching.  Although it’s your company, it’s theirs too, and even if you prefer a more rough and tumble environment, you’ve got to be mindful of that, and build your company’s culture accordingly.

It also means taking great care during the hiring process to be sure you’re hiring people who can and will work together harmoniously, and when you define projects for your people, make sure they’re interesting and engaging.

Foster a sense of teamwork and lead by example.  Keep any conflicts that might arise civil, and preferably, behind closed doors.  Nurture those same habits in your management team and provide personal, ongoing feedback.  Finally, cross-train your employees to further an even greater sense of cooperation.

Keeping employee motivation high can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you do nothing more than put the tips we mentioned above into practice, you’ll be amazed at the impact it has on your business.  Your employees will be happier and notably more motivated and that, in turn, will do good things to your bottom line.