As a manager, motivating your employees and encouraging them to be productive and meet the expectations of their positions should be a top priority. Productive employees are typically happier and have a higher sense of morale, contributing to a more pleasant work environment overall. However, this isn’t always easy, particularly for those employees who struggle with self-motivation. How do you motivate and engage these employees who need that extra push to steer them in the right direction?

Communicate – If your employees don’t know specifically what you want out of them, how can you expect them to perform at a satisfactory level? Communicate your expectations, whether that be the functions of their job, performance standards, or behavioral factors that they can work on. Communication should always be a two-way street. Give and receive feedback in a way that is productive and mutually beneficial.

Lead by Example – The “Golden Rule” applies to the workplace just as much as it did to the schoolyard as children. The simple concept of treating others as you would like to be treated means so much when applied in a work setting. Work on creating this kind of environment for your employees. Put yourself in their shoes and work in a way that would make them want to give back and put forth a genuine effort.

Be Fair and Consistent – Everyone likes a fair, unbiased boss. Apply policies and procedures the same across the board, and try not to play favorites when administering rewards or discipline. Many employees get discouraged when treatment is unequitable and when favoritism abounds. Really focus on how inequitable treatment affects others and be deliberate and unbiased with how you assign tasks and deliver praise and criticism.

Provide Opportunities for Growth – Many employees will respond well to an opportunity to obtain training. Use training and other learning opportunities as incentives for fine work. Select your most diligent or outstanding employees to attend outside seminars and conferences where they can pick up new job skills and spend time mentoring a dedicated employee for an hour or two a week as a reward for excellent performance.

Always keep in mind that each employee is a unique individual and what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for the other. Be observant and learn what makes them tick. Some employees are motivated by power and praise, another may just want some respect and to have their voice heard. Take the time to learn what you can do to help each employee succeed and reap the rewards of more engaged, productive, and an overall happier team.

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