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Category Archives: Motivation Tools

Employee motivation starts with meeting their needs

My professional colleague and friend Steve Foran is on a mission to help one billion people become happier.  And he’s well on his way!  He does this through a variety of avenues, but primarily through his research and teaching on gratitude and the habits of gratefulness.  Earlier this year, in May, he invited me to articulate once a day for five days, three reasons I was grateful (so a total of fifteen).  It was a rewarding exercise, one that forced me to be thoughtful and deliberate.  Since gratitude is an essential component of leadership and employee motivation, I asked him if he would be a guest contributor on our blog.  He said yes!  So in today’s post, Steve talks specifically about two needs you must meet for your employees in order for them to be highly-motivated.

There are two foundational needs that must be met in order that an employee be fully engaged in their work. It is not simply enough that leaders know these needs, but they must actively ensure these basic human needs are fulfilled.

The motivation for people to contribute their best-selves happens when the following two needs are met:

  1. One feels capable and competent
  2. One feels socially valued

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Acknowledgement and praise are powerful tools to develop your employees

We’ve been talking all year on the blog about specific ideas to develop your employees, and today’s tip now brings us up to Strategy #23.  It is to deliberately and consciously seek out opportunities to praise and acknowledge your staff for good work.

Be deliberate about praising and acknowledging your staff for their good work

In order to grow and develop, people need to know how they’re doing.  In fact, back in Strategy #10, I talked about both why and how to give constructive feedback.  The goal was that employees should have enough information to change their behaviours and actions for the better.  But don’t just tell your staff what to improve.  Positive feedback, praise, acknowledgement for a job well done is just as powerful a tool to develop your employees.

Two powerful reasons to do this!

When we praise and acknowledge, it tells employees what they are doing well, and therefore, encourages them to continue.  That alone, is a really good reason to do it!  But even more than that, recognition for doing good work builds morale.  When staff feel good about themselves, they are more invested in themselves and in the department or organization, which means that productivity and performance will go up too.  So make it a point to deliberately and thoughtfully recognize your staff whenever you can.  Even though more is possible, a simple thank you that is tied to a specific action or behavior will suffice.  Praise and recognition can be given privately or publicly, think about what will be more appreciated by the person you are acknowledging.  It doesn’t matter how or where, just do it.  Try it, I think you’ll find that praise and acknowledgement can be a simple, yet powerfully effective tool to develop your employees.

So …. I’d love to hear from you.  Are you being deliberate about acknowledging and praising good work done by your employees?  If not, why not?  I’d love to hear more.

I referred to Strategy #10 above.  But if you’re looking for more, you can access the complete series in our Video Archives.

Influence employee behaviour by using the Convenient Fruit Principle

FruitBowlOne of my favourite hotels always has a large bowl of fruit sitting on the counter in their front desk area, available to any of their hotel clientele who want a quick snack.  Recently, as I checked in one evening, I mentioned to the front desk agent that I felt the onset of a cold.  She helpfully recommended that I boost my Vitamin C consumption.  To which I laughingly responded that their fruit bowl never contained oranges, only apples and bananas.  She paused, and then earnestly replied, “Oh, we tried adding oranges, but no one ever takes the oranges, just the apples and bananas.  So now we just leave them out.”

The convenient fruit principle

At first thought, you might assume that this discrepancy exists because most people like apples and bananas more than oranges.  But when you consider it further, the reason is much simpler.  Apples and bananas are easy to eat, but oranges are not.  As delicious as oranges are, you usually need a knife to eat them.  And if they can be peeled, most times they are quite messy.  So hotel guests looking for a quick and easy snack always pick the apples and bananas.  I call this the “convenient fruit principle”, and it applies just as much in the workplace as it does at snack time.

Use the convenient fruit principle to motivate desired behaviour

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To motivate employees, thank their spouses and families

This blog post was originally written in January 2014, and has been updated since then. 

GiftBasketOver the years, I have posted many times about zero-cost or inexpensive ways to motivate employees.  Each time my focus has been on ways to create a positive workplace atmosphere.  If you can secure your employees’ cooperation and loyalty, you can improve productivity and performance.

In fact, last year, in 2018, I posted an entire series of video blogs (33 in total) that focused specifically on ideas to motivate employees.  Each video was a 2-3 minute specific actionable idea that leaders could use to build positivity, productivity and performance.  But it’s always very exciting to actually see these tips in action … even better when I experience them first-hand.

It happened to me!

Which is exactly what happened to me in January 2014 when a gourmet food hamper arrived at my front door! It was accompanied by a card – “Please accept this small gesture of my appreciation for your family’s patience and sacrifice during the company’s year-end close”.  It was signed by a senior manager of the company my husband works for. What a pleasant surprise! Continue reading

Increase employee engagement by celebrating and sharing small wins

Today’s instalment is #19 in our ongoing series on practical ideas to develop and grow your employees.   And in this one, I look specifically at one powerful way to increase employee engagement.  It is to make it a point to celebrate and share small wins with the team and others.

Celebrate and share small wins

The reality is that while big successes are often recognized and discussed, the small victories tend to fly under the radar.  Which is a huge missed opportunity for you, the leader, to create employee engagement.  So make it a point to surface these smaller accomplishments, and not only will you increase employee engagement, but development and motivation as well.

In a previous strategy in this series (#18), I talked about using your staff meetings to review and analyze one thing that didn’t go as well as expected as a way to systematize learning from failure.  This approach for sharing small wins is similar, but it focuses on successes instead.

Systematize celebrating small wins in your staff meetings

For every staff meeting you hold, establish a permanent agenda item called “Wins” or “Successes”.  Continue reading

Seeking employee development strategies? Implement a tuition reimbursement program

For the past several months, I’ve been sharing specific employee development strategies on the blog via short videos: each time, one explicit, pragmatic, and actionable idea you can use to help your employees develop and grow into accomplished professionals and the future leaders in your organization.  Today’s advice: implement a tuition reimbursement program.

Implement a tuition reimbursement program

A tuition reimbursement program is a great way to support learning that isn’t provided in-house, and to provide assistance to employees who want to further their education. Such programs are usually external learning curriculum provided by colleges, universities, professional associations and vendors in relation to industry certifications.

Now it’s true, an employee who takes classes may not finish the degree for several years.  Continue reading

Create employee engagement by monitoring performance metrics

Today’s blog post takes us to Strategy #14 in my ongoing series of video tips outlining specific ideas to develop and grow your employees.  Employee growth is a natural outcome of employee engagement, and a sure-fire way to create employee engagement is to establish and monitor performance metrics.

Establish and monitor performance targets

We’ve all heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” It simply means that regular measurement and reporting keeps people attentive and focused.  And when people know how they’re doing, they are deliberate and thoughtful about making decisions to improve their results.

So establish metrics.  What are those vital few indicators that tell you things in your department are working as intended?  Make sure that this is information that can be collected easily. Because if it’s too difficult, it won’t happen. Continue reading

Regular one-on-one conversations support employee growth

In our last video tip in our ongoing series on developing and growing employees, I said that it was critical to offer constructive feedback to your people.  Key to continued employee growth though is that this constructive feedback be frequent and consistent.  So today’s strategy for employee growth builds on the last tip.  It is to schedule regular one-on-one conversations with each of your staff members.

Schedule regular one-on-one conversations with your staff

When thinking about regular one-on-one conversations with each of your direct reports, there are two things you need to consider – frequency and content.  So let me address each one separately.

How often?

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Strategy #9 in our series on employee development ideas: make it safe to make mistakes

In strategy #8 in our continuing series on employee development ideas, I said that a great way to help employees grow was to find opportunities to showcase their strengths.  While that may seem paradoxical, the logic is that when staff are given chance to shine, it boosts their self-confidence which then carries over into other more difficult situations.  So following from that is Strategy #9 in employee development ideas: make it safe to make mistakes.

Make it safe to make mistakes

The old adage – you polish your skills by doing it right, but you learn from making mistakes – fully applies.  Development and growth only happens when people are willing to push the envelope, to go beyond the tried-and-true, to step outside their comfort zones and do something different.  But that comes with risks – that things may go wrong, or not work out as hoped or intended.  The risk is that when people go beyond what is currently being done, they may make a mistake, or even, in the harsh light of hindsight, fail.  But if it becomes dangerous to make mistakes, employees simply will stop taking risks of any sort. And then, they will ultimately stop learning and growing. Continue reading

Strategy #8 in our video series on developing your employees

In my last instalment on ideas for developing your employees, I suggested you ask further questions in response to questions asked by your employees.  Today’s tip in this series: find opportunities to showcase your people’s strengths.

Find opportunities to showcase your people’s strengths

An important component of developing your employees is to build up their self-esteem and their confidence, and when we, as leaders, can find ways to highlight and showcase their strengths, we set our people up to succeed!  Every employee has certain things they are good at.  Perhaps one of your staff members is very strong analytically, and a second is good at doing presentations.  Maybe one of your people is very detail-oriented, and another has a knack for seeing the big picture implications of a situation.  Yet another has demonstrated expertise in complicated negotiations.

Whatever an employee’s strengths, when you give assignments that emphasize those attributes, you also give the employee an opportunity to shine.  And when employees get the satisfaction that comes with not only doing the job well, but knowing that others also observe them at their best, their self-confidence climbs.  Continue reading