Developing Self-Motivated Employees

Instead of having a small party every time an employee completes an email, report, or presentation, how should managers, supervisors, and human resources professionals help their employees be self-motivated? On the Human Resources website Fistful of Talent, author Tim Sackett delineates what merits reward and what doesn’t: “I believe in the daily grind. People who grind daily are people who I want on my bus. Don’t get me wrong – I love to celebrate! But I love to celebrate big accomplishments – not daily deliverables.” He goes on to say that many people in the workplace favor the kind of celebration that he opposes because they simply confuse it with communication. So, keeping your employees motivated to do their jobs might simply be a case of improving your channels of communication. The natural follow-up question becomes: how is that accomplished?

For starters, be clear about your expectations for employee performance and communicate what end goals will merit celebration. This can be done as you and your employees set annual goals, creating the expectation that productivity and progress with bigger tasks will be highly regarded as opposed to the smaller tasks performed on a daily basis.

Set a company culture of high reward: At least within your department, if you cannot affect this change within the entire company, foster an atmosphere that recognizes high performing employees with significant reward. While you obviously can’t flash around the raise that you’ve given to one employee or another, you can recognize them in a myriad of ways that not only show appreciation but give high visibility to their contribution to the company. For example, if your company has a monthly office-wide meeting or distributes a regular newsletter, call out the employee for their work, emphasizing the significance of their contribution.

Encourage risk and innovation: As a manager, you most likely have a sense of your employee’s day-to-day activities, but do you know about the nuances of their daily grind? Are there steps they can take to minimize distractions, eliminate useless or time-wasting, outdated tasks? Encourage them to create new processes within their roles that make their daily grind more productive. This will give your employee’s more ownership and control over their job while actively pursuing greater productivity. If their innovation is successful, it can be used as a motivator to do the same elsewhere or to help their colleagues conduct similar evaluations of their jobs. And if it’s not successful? Even failure can be an excellent motivator if met with the correct readjustments and feedback.

Encouraging employees to motivate themselves through the daily grind doesn’t mean leaving them completely to their own devices, nor does it promote micromanagement to keep them on a productive track. With the right expectations clearly communicated, employees can aim for the level of productivity that will garner reward and recognition within their company. If they’re not up to the task, with your expectations set reasonably high, you’ll quickly identify those whose innovation could help the company move forward.

How do you develop self-motivated employees? Do you only celebrate big accomplishments vs daily deliverables in the office? Let us know in the comments.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Nono Fara