5 bosses reveal how they motivate their employees

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Motivation is a term that may not have been used much in the workplace some years ago, but now it’s a huge talking point. More power is shifting to employees and it would be fair to say that the situation is a lot healthier than it ever has been.

For today’s post, we have spoken to multiple business owners and senior management who have tried to raise motivation levels in their organization. We haven’t been able to name names for obvious reasons, but the results are definitely worth a read.

Invest in people, not projects

OK, you probably also need to invest in projects, but the first business owner we turned to said that this was one of the biggest lessons she had ever learned.

To provide some context, she owns a public relations company that has between 25 and 30 staff at any given time. At first, her sole emphasis was about investing in projects, but something was missing. She quickly found out that employees were clockwatching, and had no real investment in projects.

Then, she turned a to a people-centered approach. She insisted that all managers within her team held weekly one-on-one sessions with their direct reports, whilst also making sure that every employee had a personal development plan. It’s resulted in plenty of internal promotions but perhaps surprisingly, her business turnover has grown by 33% since implementing this two years ago.

A smaller example focused on collaboration

Of course, the first example was quite radical. Some companies might be too big, or just don’t have the resources, to invest in each and every person like the above. Sure, it’s something that most would like to do, but in reality it’s difficult.

This is what we found out when we spoke to a small business owner in Manchester, UK. They owned a printing company, with just six employees on their books.

The nature of the business meant that constant employee development was difficult – they weren’t growing fast enough for this.

However, there was nothing stopping them getting more involved. The managing director said to us, “Just making people feel involved in projects has been the best thing for us. Every single person in our team collaborates, and this means that they feel invested. We’ve stuck with the same team for three years since going with this approach, so it seems to be working.”

“I banned meetings”

This was one of the more interesting conversations we had. This time, it was with a mortgage company who had 150 people employed with them, spread over multiple departments.

An employee satisfaction survey revealed that most were sick and tired of meetings. Most found that they just couldn’t get things done – and received the brunt of manager criticism because of this.

As such, the MD made a striking point to ban meetings. Sure, “there might be some extreme exceptions”, but overall meetings were banned. Instead, they were replaced by quick chats over a desk, and this has improved morale of employees significantly.

Goal setting is key

This was one of the least surprising examples for us, with one owner simply telling us that goal setting was key to their success.

This was a company who started out small, but expanded rapidly. It meant that they missed the corporate-appraisal style that a lot of big firms had. In doing this, most of their employees didn’t have goals.

Now, every single recruit is given annual goals. These can be split to be more granular depending on the manager, but the main rule is that these yearly goals have to both be set, and reviewed.

And some just rely on candy…

For this final example, we spoke to a manager of a HR consultancy company in London.

In this case, his advice was simple – he relied on candy. That’s right, there were no expensive tricks here, simply making sure that licorice candy and other favorites are readily available was his top tip.

He went on to say that he had experimented with more advanced methods, such as away days and even beer Friday, but when it came to the crunch most employees just wanted to feel “looked after” day-in-day out. Candy was his best way to do this.

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