You need to motivate staff to avoid a culture of clock-watching. Photo: Louie Douvis.
Motivation has an overwhelming impact on employee productivity, but it can be hard to maintain during times of increased stress – such as now as we hurtle toward the end of financial year. To keep spirits and standards high, and avoid a culture of clock-watchers, its important keep your people inspired. Based on our experience building an award-winning culture at Vend, here are five tips we’ve learned to boost motivation.
1. Look for every opportunity to develop your people
Your people are your competitive advantage so it’s important to create a win-win situation where you align their work and development with their own ambitions. It’s easy to think that employee development is expensive, but the reality is that most of it happens on the job. By setting stretch goals, delegating projects, and letting employees in on your thinking and decision-making processes, you can aid their development without additional investment.
2. Focus on being the best leader you can be
You may have been lucky enough to work for an inspiring and motivating leader at some point in your career, and like most of us you’ve probably also worked with people who haven’t made leadership a priority. Great leadership can make a big difference in inspiring a team; and the good news is that it isn’t rocket science.
The easiest thing you can do is to play to your strengths. Strengths-based leadership recognises that using and honing your strengths is far more effective than improving your weaknesses (baring any major flaws that need to be dealt with of course). Once you know what your strengths are, the key is to surround yourself with complementary people to round out your team.
3. Recognise your people and celebrate
People love being recognised for great work. It’s easy to forget to give praise for work well done, especially when you’re busy, but doing so will ensure your team stays motivated and engaged. Even better, when you create a culture of recognition your people will start recognising each other, which will keep the good vibes going independent of yourself.
There are many technology tools that you can use for recognition, like Slack or TribeHR, however sometimes the best way is just a quiet word or a pat on the back. Everyone is different, and getting to know how people like to be recognised can help you reward them in the most effective way. It pays to always link recognition with your company’s ideals – for example at Vend any praise we give is directly attributed to one of our five core values – this ensures you’re encouraging work that will drive your long-term success.
4. Communicate why and how your people help the company win
Your business exists for a reason other than making a profit. In order to inspire your people it’s very important to clearly articulate what this reason is, in an emotionally compelling way. Once you know your company mission, craft it into your company story and take every opportunity to talk about it with your staff.
In addition, ensure that absolutely everyone understands how they help the business win. This can be incorporated in job descriptions, discussed in onboarding and reiterated in 1:1s and performance reviews. If you’re not sure how someone in your team truly helps the business, dedicate the time to get this thinking crystal clear.
At Vend we are very open with how we make our money and our financial results, because we believe that for people to help us win, they need the details. Ask yourself how much information you are prepared to give away – at the very least share your business model so people know where to focus their efforts for maximum effect.
5. Have crystal clear expectations
High expectations drive focussed high-performers – as long as they are clear from the outset. This goes both ways, so as well as being honest about what you expect of your team, clarify what they expect of you. One way to do this is ‘management by objectives’ which involves clarifying organisational objectives and then cascading these down throughout the organisational into individual’s work objectives. And there are programmes such as 15Five, which we use here at Vend, as an open and supportive way to track and foster employee goals and responsibilities.
However motivated your team is right now, you can inspire them even more by taking small actions every single day. So start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can, to bring a more inspired way of working into your business.
Mel Rowsell is head of leadership development and culture at retail software company Vend.