It's no secret. Motivated employees provide the best service to your customers. The real question is how do you motivate them. Most experts agree it's up to the owner or manager to set up the right environment to help employees provide their own self-motivation. This is the vital link.
1) Hire the right people. Part of the right environment is hiring the right kind of people. One business owner states that without good people it's very difficult to stay successful. When the situation demands it, some business owners hire headhunters to find the top job candidate to run a particular department.
2) Communicate the goals of the company. Another small business owner makes sure that the goals of the company are spelled out clearly to his employees. It's vital everyone has a shared vision of what the company is trying to accomplish.
3) Ask what motivates employees. It is very important that business owners and managers know what motivates their employees. Of course, one of the best ways to find out is to simply ask.
4) Learn a little about your employees. One way to better understand what motivates an employee is to find out the type of recreational activities he or she enjoys after work. If the person is a softball player, for example, peer recognition and teamwork may be important. If it is a solitary activity or hobby, independence may be a prime motivating factor.
By looking for similarities between work and after-work activities, one can identify how an employee likes to be reinforced for a job well done.
5) Throw a party. One firm reports that having an annual pizza party in the winter and a summer picnic (where employees' families are included) helps create team spirit. Performance awards and prizes are presented at these gatherings.
This company strives to include activities emphasizing the human side of the company.
6) Reward employees with cash. Some business owners report that handing out cash as an incentive loses its value since many times employees will spend it on bills or other non-memorable items. Still, some business owners say providing cash incentives does work well.
7) Awards, prizes and employee outings. Another company reports that monthly awards, prizes and employee outings to amusement parks all help to keep its staff motivated. It also has annual meetings where service awards are presented. Christmas parties include sincere handshakes and gifts for everyone.
8) Give them praise. One of the most powerful forms of positive reinforcement is to simply give sincere ``attaboys'' when the situation warrants it. Remember the motto, ``Praise Pays!''
One business owner says he tries to ``catch people doing something right.'' He adds that he strives to make the company a fun place to work. By doing so, he encourages employees to enjoy their role as a team player.
Keeping employees motivated is an on-going process and no mystery. It's simply following a well thought out and regularly implemented system. Happier employees will produce happier customers, which will result in a more successful and prosperous company.
Mr. Borg is president of Canton, Mich.-based Tom Borg & Associates, which offers consulting and training in customer development and employee performance.