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Seven tips to keep employees on their toes

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Do you find it hard to keep staff? Do you have staff you'd rather not keep? Motivating staff can help keep the ones you want, and possibly even help you get more out of the non-performers.

Knowing how to motivate people is important. When successful US businessman, Charles Schwab was asked why he earned such a huge salary, he commented, “Lots of people work here who know lots more about steel than I do. I can inspire people. I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among employees the greatest asset I possess”.

Now I'm not going to say that motivating people is an easy job. It's tough and you have to keep at it constantly. Successful business owners always acknowledge the role that good people play in their operations.

Here are some relatively simple things you can do to keep your employees on their toes – it’s good for them because they can feel personally satisfied when they give their best (and they get rewarded) and in turn, top performers produce better results for your business.

It doesn't matter how much you ask your staff to pull their socks up, if they're not motivated, they won't do it. Bob Hazell, a director of Advanced Training, in Oxfordshire, UK – which specialises in helping companies instil passion in the workplace – says that drive, attitude and confidence are three keys to motivation.

So how do I motivate my staff?

Hazell says that good managers learn what they need to do in order to motivate people. The essence of management is to actually ask yourself how you would like to be treated.

Most people agree that it would be lovely to receive a 'thank you' and a 'well done', every so often. Putting yourself in the shoes of your employees and treating them accordingly is the best way to motivate your employees and produce a positive vibe.
 
Drive alone won't do the job. An optimistic attitude is essential to motivate staff. Attitudes often breed from negativity. In many businesses, there is one person, a ‘rotten apple’, who is pessimistic and seems to be able to bring out the worst in every situation.

How to improve staff retention:

1. Talk to your employees

Ask simple questions like, 'how are you’? It doesn't take much to just be nice to people.

As the owner of the business, you're busy. But if an employee has an issue, then make sure that you take the time to listen.

2. Say 'thank you'

It's funny, but from my own experience as an employer, there are so many times when a pay rise or a reward is not seen as important as the boss saying 'thank you' for a job well done.

Today's workers need – and expect – to be thanked and if they're not recognised, they'll get on Seek and start looking for new jobs.

I'm not saying the people don't like money and tangible rewards like a weekend away or a dinner for two. What I'm saying is that these tangible rewards aren’t always expected – but people do like to hear a 'thank you' for a job well done. Always make sure that you acknowledge a job well done.

The person who has done the job will be looking for praise and if you don't give it to them they'll start to look for it elsewhere

3. Don't give them the cold shoulder

You're the owner of the business and your priorities and stresses are often quite different to your employees. You might feel that you're carrying all the burden and stress but in reality that's not the case.

Your staff could be at the coalface taking complaints or dealing with difficult customers. If they come to you for support or advice then show empathy.

4. Learn to delegate

As your business grows and you take on more people, you will have to delegate some jobs that you could like or be attached to. But if you want to grow and prosper, then letting go is important.

The best thing is when your staff member does a job previously done by you either equally as well or even better.

Make a person feel important when they achieve things in your business

5. Give them room to grow

Make sure that you acknowledge an employee's strengths and always encourage them to play to those strengths. If you want to keep staff you are going to have to offer them opportunities to develop their skills.

Most people seek professional development and some small businesses worry that if they train people they will leave and the business has lost money. That's true to a certain extent and you do run the risk of training them and they go elsewhere. But if you don't train them and they stay, they could be under-skilled in their jobs and this will impact on your business.

6. Do business by the book

When a new person comes into your business make sure they are given specific instructions about all aspects of their job. These should be written into a specific manual, so while they are settling in, they feel comfortable because they can read what the job entails without constantly having to ask a colleague or their manager. This framework gives them the confidence to perform and helps them settle in a lot easier.

Remember it takes time for a new employees to know your standards and expectations. This isn’t to say that they can't ask questions but having action plans about their specific tasks gives them a reference point to check that they're not making mistakes.

7. Listen up

Your employees could have valuable ideas that could contribute to innovations in your organisation that could lead to bottom line improvements. Ask for input when decisions are being made. And reward them if one of their innovative ideas has benefits in your business.

Tips for getting the best from your employees

Drive
•    Motivating employees is the only way to give them drive.
•    If you're a manager, put yourself in their shoes and find out how you'd like to be treated and treat them accordingly.
•    'Please', 'thank you' and 'well done' can go a long way.
•    Put out a positive vibe.
•    Try to make the workplace enjoyable.

Attitude
•    Instil optimism within the organisational culture.
•    Don't let one negative person affect the whole organisation.
•    Don't accept a pessimistic attitude from any member of staff.
•    Make change a regular occurrence.
•    Make change a fun thing and have it anticipated by staff.

Confidence
•    Encourage your staff to better themselves.
•    Let your staff know that you believe in them and their ability.
•    Delegate jobs to staff, not just the bad jobs.
•    Boost their morale by taking the time to talk to them and show them how to do tasks.

Recognise that every employee in your business has the potential to lift their game and the ability to do this comes down to confidence. For staff to have a good attitude and to improve their skills, they must have confidence in themselves. Often a person will have a poor attitude because they're not encouraged in the right areas.

Healthy habits

Hazell says that confidence is what facilitates a healthy attitude and is something that can be developed.

“Habits are formed over 39 days, or thereabouts, so we're told, and so if you do something naughty for 39 days, on the 40th day you will do it automatically. Therefore, it means consciously working on your attitude for 39 days and after that it will be easy. Once this is achieved, the biggest objective is to keep away from negativity and do your best to keep positive and self-assured,” he says.

It makes sense then to say that employees with this type of mindset are invaluable to your business.

“They are people that when the boss is out and a decision needs to be made or something needs to be done, they actually take responsibility and say ‘I've got the confidence to run with this and take the rap if it doesn't work out’.”

Hazell believes this type of confidence is beneficial, especially for small and medium businesses, “where the business owners can't look over the shoulders of their employees at all times”.

Confidence builder

An employee will feel more confident when their manager has confidence in them. A lot of managers and business owners find it difficult to delegate because they don't have complete belief in the ability of their staff.

“This type of approach won't benefit anyone in the business or the business itself. When a staff member goes to an owner or manager and asks them how to do something, then the manager should take the time to show the employee what to do. If a manager does the task themselves, then they are blocking the employee from doing the job they have been paid to do, as well as stripping them of confidence,” adds Hazel.

If you don't develop employees, they tend end up with jobs no-one else wants to do, which is de-motivating. So find ways to delegate work, and develop your employees while they're doing a job, to ensure they're happy.

Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Monday, October 19, 2009

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