What Are Your Motivation Tactics?
There have been hundreds of books and articles written on how to motivate one’s employees. All manner of theories and ideas have been introduced, from those that insist that employee motivation lies with financial reward to those that declare you must motivate your employees based on their age group. What many of these theories and ideas don’t express is how deeply employee motivation is tied to personalities, company culture, and the style of management employees receive.
At the core of managing people is a need to empower them. Realizing that each and every employee has strengths and weaknesses is a huge part of successfully managing and empowering them. What are some easy ways to empower your employees? We’ve listed a few below.
Consider the Personalities on Your Team
Many managers avoid getting to know the members of their team because it is, in fact, extra work. Taking the time to have meaningful conversations about the roles your team members fill, what isn’t working for them as far as processes go, and the efficiencies they enjoy in their daily roles can yield tons of valuable information, and not just for the health of your role as a manager.
Successfully empowering your employees begins with considering the wealth of personalities within its confines. From the quiet workers who need to be encouraged to speak up in meetings to the boisterous personalities that demand more leadership roles, you can allot your team members assignments and roles within the company that directly reflects their strengths, comfort zones and aspirations. When they’re working within the sphere where they feel most able, empowerment (and more efficient, more enthusiastic work) will follow.
There’s an iconic scene in the television show Mad Men wherein young, hardworking, and talented copywriter Peggy Olsen is expressing her frustrations with her job to her boss, Don Draper. Don’s reaction to Peggy’s inquiries is a classic example of how to alienate and victimize your employees rather than empower them, and while the show is set in a drastically different time than ours, it’s still relevant to the conversation of employee empowerment.
Not only does refusing to recognize your employees’ hard work make them feel disvalued and overlooked, it can work against any aspirations you have to increase leadership roles on your team. Be aware of exceptional work. Reward it. Acknowledge it. Empower your employees by giving their work the recognition it warrants. Don’t expect their often-paltry paychecks to be all the recognition they need.
Have Realistic Expectations
Many managers set their employees up in inevitable failures from the very beginning. By assigning to many tasks and setting unrealistic deadlines, you ensure that your employees will either A) Miss their deadlines so they can do the work correctly, or B) Meet their deadlines, but turn into low-quality work that does not reflect their abilities. Both scenarios produce mental anguish, frustration, and eventual disempowerment for your employees.
Being honest with yourself about the actual possibilities and parameters for your company is the first step towards making realistic assignments and setting attainable and fair deadlines for your employees. When they’re given enough time to do good work, your employees will deliver on their abilities and, as a result, feel empowered in their positions.
Encourage Independent Decision-Making
Allowing your employees to make decisions in their jobs without seeking approval or review from you or another management member is also important in the empowerment process. If you shudder at the thought of allowing a task to be marked “complete” before getting your seal of management approval, you might want to rethink the people you’ve hired to hold positions in your company. If micromanagement of each and every task is the only way you’re able to sleep at night, you must re-align your priorities and consider searching for job candidates who can work independently from your constant scrutiny and overseeing.
Unless you’re paying each of your employees a king’s ransom each paycheck, micromanagement is going to suffocate and frustrate them and might also make them feel victimized. Your lack of confidence in their abilities says more about your own lack of confidence in your hiring practices than about your employees’ inability to deliver.
Discourage Competition; Encourage Team Work
Bosses who try to inspire competition among their employees are usually just trying to inspire a spike in performance. What they usually end up doing, however, is creating an atmosphere of tension and deceit that will inevitably become more distracting than empowering. Encouraging your employees to compete with their team mates (the keyword here is team) is bad for collaboration, office culture and the health of future group projects. You want your employees to feel like a united front, willing to help and encourage one another on any project. Any competition that crops up among your team should arise organically, as a result of personal hunger and ambition, not because you planted the seed.
Empowering your employees can seem like a tough riddle when you’re facing trying times in your business and bolstering leadership roles is imperative. You may find that employee empowerment lies in treating your employees like the assets to your company that they are. Seeing them as dynamic people, capable of leading, collaborating and contributing on all levels, will not only help them feel empowered, but it will help you grow as a manager.