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Employee Engagement Motivating Employees

By Lisa Hays, Fresh Perspective
Posted June 19, 2015

Letters spelling out MOTIVATEIt may seem very basic, but often considerable resources are spent motivating employees to adopt behavior that doesn’t fit with the company’s culture, or advance strategy or business objectives. Start with a clear understanding, and ensure all steps taken to motivate employees show genuine caring and appreciation.

One of the great things about praise is that anyone can do it. Often the best praise is spontaneous, genuine, immediate and specific. And, it costs nothing!

Per Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour magazine: “Even the toughest, steeliest writer or editor often really wants to be told,Hey, that was a great piece.’

Praise can be tied to any positive act that goes beyond expectations and is in line with company culture, objectives and strategies. Part of building a great corporate culture includes praising people for intangible and un-defined things that make a really positive – often long-term – impression. Praise both rewards positive behavior, and demonstrates the kinds of behavior considered desirable.

The phrase “catch people doing something right” is good to keep in mind as you observe numerous employee actions daily – regardless of whether their actions are job-related.

Support employee involvement in causes/charitable organizations they care about
As part of building and maintaining a strong corporate culture, create and fund a plan for supporting charitable causes of importance to your workforce.

Consider capturing, perhaps via survey, what causes/charities are important to employees across the organization. Then determine which one(s) the company is going to support, and what form that support will take.

Narrowing in to a Few Deserving Causes/Charities
One option for selecting specific causes/charities is a contest where employees (optimally a cross-functional group) volunteer to create contest rules and fun methods for supporters of causes/charities to make their case to the entire workforce for specific causes/charities and how voting, and selection, will take place.

Make sure to provide corporate charitable parameters with this group. Oversight from an individual within leadership who is personally active in charitable causes will be valued.

Selecting charitable causes of personal importance to employees across the organization will ensure opportunities throughout the year for the company to show support in ways that provide positive impact to a sizeable component of the workforce – and position the company as a good corporate citizen.

Company leadership – yes you – need to personally participate in events. This could mean raising funds by volunteering your services to personally wash the highest bidder’s vehicle, or some other “leader as servant” (humorous for employees) task.

Having a good sense of humor – including the willingness to laugh at yourself – is imperative.

Leslie Wexner Quote Image

Get rid of demotivators
Simply said; less simple to achieve. This includes anything – or anyone – that is:

  1. a drag on performance, or
  2. not in sync with the company’s culture, strategy and objectives.
Consider it a call to rethink anything that fits under the umbrella of “how we’ve always done it.” If it’s not the best policy, method or process today and looking forward, it’s time to change it, replace it, or phase it out.

In the same vein, nearly every company has employees who simply should not be there. Regardless of how they initially came to be an employee, or how long they have been there, today they are “actively disengaged” (17.5% of a typical company’s employees), resistant to change, disrespectful, disruptive, destructive, or just plain difficult to work with. They need to go.

It will likely be uncomfortable, time-consuming and possibly initially costly. Just do it. You will likely gain respect from remaining employees, and the psychological negative weight those individuals represented will be lifted. You’ll quickly be able to observe the positive results.

Solicit ideas and suggestions from EVERYONE
You may be amazed at the GREAT ideas from people who simply have never been asked for their ideas before. This is particularly true of people “on the front line”, often in roles/departments where they often don’t interact with leadership. Consider the potential for – often very practical and cost-saving – ideas that can come from someone in shipping? The mailroom? In maintenance? In the cafeteria?

It’s important to effectively communicate across the company that ideas are desired from EVERYONE, all ideas will be reviewed, the best ideas will be implemented and individuals who provided those ideas will be recognized. One good method for evaluating ideas is to select a cross-functional and multi-level team to review, evaluate and determine which ideas to implement.

If a really good idea isn’t implemented for some reason unrelated to the idea, consider a note from the team to that employee explaining that the team sees the value of the idea, but simply isn’t in a position to implement it at this time. In general, take the initiative to praise employees for submitting ideas they believe will make the company better.

If implementation of ideas saves money, reduces waste, or achieves some other tangible benefit, ensure the results of implementation are tracked and shared across the company…leading to more good ideas.

While it’s good practice to have employee motivators built in to the culture and in enhancing employee engagement initiatives, it’s also important for several levels of leadership across the organization to have the authority – and a modest budget – to tailor motivators for their teams, to personally praise an employee who’s gone “above and beyond”, etc.

Additionally, actively include supervisors and lower-level managers in determining best ways to motivate their employees, and encourage them to share with senior leadership those “above and beyond” situations. It can be even more meaningful if a senior leader simply “drops by” with an “I heard what you did…and thanks!” message.          

Fresh Perspective
Fresh Perspective helps business leaders make key strategic decisions. We adeptly research, analyze and synthesize results to deliver only ‘need to know’ insight to leaders so they make the right decision the first time. Lisa Hays, founder and CEO, gained considerable experience from widely varied roles in large corporations. She combines her 30+ years’ experience, expertise and objective viewpoint to directly help business leaders.

Lisa Hays, Fresh Perspective, Inc.
Twitter: @Periwinkle4Lisa



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