For nearly three years, Tracy has been a wallflower. An employee who stands on the sidelines, does enough to not be recognized as a poor performer, but not quite enough to be praised and acknowledged. And she’s happy with that. She comes to work, does only what is expected, and heads home. Not having any stressors or responsibility at work is what she wants; an easy job that requires little effort and pays the bills. She has no desire to step up and participate in new projects or cross-training, and just wants to continue gliding along.
Tracy was a skater. We run across these types of employees in nearly every industry. The ones who do the bare minimum to meet expectations and not get into trouble, and are just biding their time until the next payday. They aren’t highly motivated, and lack a plan or a purpose in their career. This month we have been discussing how to remedy common “Hot Button Employee” types, including the employee who is always absent, and the know it all employee. How do you manage a skater?
Hold Employees Accountable – Some employees will simply never step up to the plate. By holding each member of your team accountable for responsibilities that are constantly new and changing, you will prevent stagnation and burnout. Additionally, encourage your team members to work out issues with accountability amongst one another which further builds a strong team dynamic.
Encourage Engagement – As a manager, it is your job to keep your employees motivated and engaged, as difficult as that may be at times. Three rules for encouraging effective motivation and engagement are: never ask others to do what you wouldn’t do yourself; provide your employees with feedback; and, encourage discussions about the good and bad aspects of their job.
Praise a Job Well Done – Particularly for those who are unmotivated, recognition is a huge deal. Praise your employees both publicly and in private and they will be motivated to repeat and build on their moment of excellence. All the perks in the world cannot make an employee feel as good as genuine praise and acknowledgment.
We have all experienced a Tracy, and frankly many of us have been in that type of position. Skater’s are in no way self-starters and most teams need go-getters to do their part in encouraging engagement and motivation. These employees will slip through the cracks if you let them, so be proactive with nipping mediocre behavior in the bud before it becomes a more serious issue.
Upon returning from maternity leave, Katherine knew that she would struggle with balancing work and being a new parent. In addition to being able to cut back to a part-time work schedule, her job as a consultant fortunately allowed her with the flexibility to work from home. Her supervisor, Richard, worked with her to create an accommodating schedule and a way of coordinating and managing projects and tasks that was mutually beneficial.
As amazing and understanding as her supervisor was, and as lucky as she was to have been given the opportunity to figure out how to juggle the two jobs, Katherine found herself struggling from time to time. No matter how hard she tried to stay engaged and dedicated to her work, projects that were already on the back burner stayed there, procrastination reared its ugly head, and Katherine started to worry that soon her boss would have a serious chat with her about her lack of motivation and inability to complete tasks she never struggled with in the past.
Having always had open lines of communication with Richard, Katherine brought up these issues during their weekly meeting. Being genuinely invested in the performance and well-being of his employee, Richard took the time to implement effective motivational techniques and reach solutions that would help get Katherine out of her funk and back in the game.
Even the most committed and loyal employees run into these obstacles. Life happens, other priorities take precedence, and we slowly begin to slack. This month we have been discussing the various types of and needs for motivation in the workplace, including self-motivation, motivating employees, motivating those who you don’t supervise or “shouldn’t” have to manage, and motivating an efficient team.
Whether it be yourself, a coworker, or an employee, learning how to recognize when motivation is lacking and when to take the appropriate steps to rectify any issues is a skill necessary to any professional individual. Reaching out to help a colleague who is struggling, and knowing when to ask for help when you are in a funk yourself helps to ensure job satisfaction, maximum productivity, and the overall positive morale of yourself, your employees, and your team as a whole.
Most of us either love working in a team environment, or loathe it. Some people work better independently, while others thrive in group settings. Regardless of your personal preference, the majority of jobs require you to work with others from time to time. With a mix of different personalities and work preferences, keeping everyone on track and on the same page can be a challenge at times.
Much like self-motivation, teams often start off on a great note, but along the way the group can falter and can need a little extra nudge to get back on track. How do you not only get, but keep your team motivated, particularly when you may have individuals who require different things to stay engaged?
- Create a Common Goal – Clear expectations are a vital part of managing employees. Especially when working with a team, everyone has a different way of doing things and has different methods and techniques used to reach the goal. When you clearly communicate what that common goal is, it helps keep everyone on the same page, with employees putting aside their individual differences to work in unison to reach that end result.
- Appreciate their Work – Just like you should strive to praise individual employees for their achievements and accomplishments, compliment your team for a job well done. When they know that you are genuinely interested in their work, and invested in their success, team morale and esteem is boosted which results in a more loyal, dependable, and engaged team.
- Team Building Activities – Taking the time to strengthen the relationships amongst your team members can lead to increased productivity and quality of work, enhanced job satisfaction, a reduction in wasted time, and improved communication overall. There are countless activities you can participate in with your team, including group discussion sessions, employee feedback activities and surveys, day trips or parties, and small celebrations of team successes.
Taking the time to keep your team motivated and engaged can result in a more dedicated and trustworthy group of individuals. It is your job as their leader to set the example and to inspire your employees to strive for and achieve success. Be there for your team and focus on being genuine and building respect. When they feel you have their best interests in mind, the results will be mutually beneficial for you, the team, and the organization as a whole.
Ever since her supervisor returned from a week long camping trip this summer, Jeanne has noticed that his usual interactions with his employees have been faltering. Where he typically would encourage and inspire his team to perform at their very best, Dave has been seemingly in his own world, letting his employees have free reign over projects and assignments. While autonomy to some degree can be a great motivator in and of itself, throwing your workers to the wolves is quite another story.
The team lead of Dave’s department, Jeanne is aware that Dave has been dealing with quite a lot in his personal life, and knows from personal experience how hard it can be to get back into the groove after a relaxing vacation. However, Jeanne needs her supervisor to step up and retake his managerial duties, which she has been picking up during his physical (and frankly, mental) absence.
A common situation many of us face in the workplace, what do you do when your supervisor, or someone who you wouldn’t necessarily manage (whether that be a coworker, your own manager, or a supervisor in another area) needs a bit of extra motivation to get them moving in the right direction again?
Show Your Appreciation – Managers. They’re just like us. When we get praise for a job well done, it boosts our self-esteem, leading to higher levels of productivity and more engagement in our work. Managers are no different. Let them know you appreciate their hard work and give thanks when they go the extra mile to help you out.
What Makes Them Tick? – On the flip side to motivating your employees by finding out what makes them tick, take the time to learn what gets your supervisors and coworkers going. So often in team environments it takes a village, and whether you’re at the top of the ladder or just starting out, when we all work together to stay engaged and driven we reach the end result in a happier, more effective manner.
Practice Empathy – Everyone has bad days. Your car breaks down, you’re late dropping the kids off at school, the cat gets sick, you get sick, etc. Any number of things can happen to put you in a funk. Remember that the same thing happens to managers; they’re human too and not holding them to unrealistic expectations and ideals means less stress for everyone.
Don’t Be a Thorn in Their Side – When your supervisors are already lacking the drive they need to perform at their best, the last thing they need is their employees causing even more problems. Be a part of the solution; try not to give them more to worry about (e.g., poor performance or behaviors) and work to provide ideas and suggestions that may give them the push in the right direction to get back into their groove.
We are all human and regardless of where we sit in the chain of command, what department we work in, or who we work under or with, everyone needs a bit of motivation from time to time. When we put our differences aside and work as a cohesive unit, the job gets done in an efficient manner, productivity doesn’t falter, and moods across the board stay elevated.
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.