After the initial excitement of a promotion, many new supervisors feel disappointed because they’re not able to implement their big ideas right away. Perhaps you know that your employees would be happier—and more productive—if you could offer them updated software or flex time, but those sorts of decisions aren’t always within your control. Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase staff motivation even if you don’t have a lot of authority yet. These five tips don’t require your boss’s approval:
- Remind your team of your goals regularly. Staff motivation can plummet when people lose sight of why they’re doing what they’re doing. Post goals where employees see them every day, and celebrate progress often. When I was in college, I worked in a clothing retail chain. The shifts often felt never-ending and boring—until a new manager showed up and starting sharing daily and monthly sales goals with us. Apparently we had always had goals, but no other manager had bothered to mention them to the staff, presumably because they thought we wouldn’t care. On the contrary, having a goal to work toward each day motivated me. I felt like I was accomplishing something.
- Be positive. Toxic negative attitudes spread through teams quickly—but so do empowering positive attitudes. Your team members will follow your lead. If you are upbeat and energized (even if you have to fake it a bit), the overall mood of your team and workplace will rise too. Remember: Happy employees are motivated employees.
- Ask your team members for their suggestions. Simply requesting feedback from your employees will motivate them because it shows that you value their opinions and insight. Implementing their ideas—and giving them credit, of course—will do wonders for staff motivation. Note: Clarify what’s within your scope of authority. If your team makes a suggestion, such as “We should move our department out of the building’s basement,” you may not be able to do much more than commiserate. As I’ve mentioned on The Organized Executive’s Blog, employees love to be asked for their ideas, and they often have good ones.
- Get out of your employees’ way. In his book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about how intrinsically motivating it is for people to reach the “flow” state—when they’re “in the zone” and completely absorbed by a task. Flow is its own reward; it just feels good. As a supervisor, you can’t put your employees in the flow state, but you can take them out of it. If you’re constantly distracting your team members by checking in on them, forcing them to go to worthless meetings or—worst of all—micromanaging their every assignment, you’re keeping them from reaching flow and decreasing their motivation.
- Provide useful feedback. Some new managers are hesitant to give their employees constructive criticism because they don’t want to offend people or burn bridges. However, that hesitation leads to missed learning opportunities, and it can cause employees job satisfaction to plummet. In a discussion at the Bud to Boss Training Camp I recently attended, multiple participants said that their most frustrating supervisors were those who refused to give constructive criticism. Those people wanted the opportunity to improve their work, but they weren’t given the necessary feedback to do so. Note: Of course, make sure to include plenty of positive feedback and praise too. All critical feedback all the time is never a good idea for staff motivation!
What other suggestions do you have for increasing staff motivation when you’re not at the top of the totem poll?
[Image Source: 1st Choice Office Outlet]