A challenge leaders face is how to effectively motivate their people and keep personal performance standards high, work assignments stimulating, and directional efforts on course. Leaders need to have several techniques at their fingertips to maintain momentum while moving positively forward.
Leaders make concentrated efforts to motivate employees by encouraging them to develop and grow in their work. Emotional resistance is eliminated when the right motivational techniques are used consistently.
Three vital motivational tools that work effectively in most situations are reassuring, challenging and empathizing. When leaders apply these motivational tools they have better success in improving employee performance, stimulating workplace creativity and reducing individual anxiety.
In order to offer greater tangible benefits to employees and have them produce effective outcomes leaders can motivate by reassuring, challenging and empathizing. These motivational techniques make individuals feel better about their personal worth, challenge them to participate fully, and align tasks and goals with individual needs and desires. Building techniques around these include:
This motivational technique is effective for helping employees cope with workplace stress and challenges. The key is to motivate by using specific positive actions and verbal support.
- Leaders focus on motivating by “cheerleading” employees onward in a supportive role. The main goal is to build commitment through influencing them to participate fully. This reduces worry and stress that they will not be able to perform properly or to the leader’s expectations. This is accomplished in part through suggesting ways to make tasks and assignments easier and offering shortcuts to eliminate frustrations.
- Leaders find a good motivational technique is to let employees know that a certain amount of stress is beneficial because it helps optimize productivity. With that in mind, they disclose all details of what is going to happen to each person involved in a task, project or outcome as much as is predictable. Encouraging employees in their efforts as they move one small step at a time is essential. Positive statements about small successful accomplishments work well to overcome personal insecurity.
- Another good motivational technique is to help employees recharge physically and emotionally. This can be accomplished by easing up on their workload occasionally, or by offering “perks” when and where a leader feels it is appropriate. The idea is to move the individual’s energy level away from work so renewed bursts of energy can take place.
Motivational challenging works effectively to reduce complacency. Challenging allows employees to be less focused on their own personal wants and problems and more focused on the priorities of the workplace. Motivational techniques need to be focused on the following:
- Overcoming an employee’s insecurity level in a positive manner is a challenge for many leaders. This can best be accomplished by creating both positive and negative outcomes directly related to individual performance. Leaders find linking performance targets to bonuses or to other intrinsic rewards works well.
- Effective leaders know that challenging employees sometimes requires motivating by applying “tough love.” They motivate by not allowing themselves to shelter the people under their direction from reality. One technique to keep employees motivated is to engineer a crisis by allowing employee apathy to lead to a fall, rather than protecting them from negative consequences. Experience can become one of the most powerful motivators.
- One powerful motivator to challenge employees and get them more involved is through the sharing of information on situations, new procedures and changes that are occurring in the workplace. Leaders understand not sharing important information regarding decisions and changes hinders employees and forces them to function in a negative, reactive state. A leader’s goal is to maintain a proactive workplace climate.
This technique is based upon listening to an employee’s side of an issue, sharing viewpoints, and providing positive interaction. Leaders must first understand how employees feel. Motivational empathy techniques are effective to build commitment. Leaders align goals and objectives with specific needs and concerns.
- Leaders must win the confidence and trust of the people under them. In order to motivate, leaders need to fully understand their employees. This involves gaining an understanding of their perspectives on problems, fears, beliefs and workplace situations. Leaders can then develop strategies to motivate in a positive way to overcome resistance, which then develops a feeling of trust and security within their followers.
- Listening is a very effective way to motivate. Not disputing views or perceptions builds higher levels of encouragement. There are times when leading people means walking or working alongside them while saying nothing. Listening allows time to observe and develop strategies to help increase confidence and productivity. To motivate effectively, it is important not to overwhelm employees with a leader’s personal power, control and confidence. Listening does this.
- Sharing quality time with employees is essential to motivate effectively. This includes personal interaction time in order to discuss and share feelings that are important to the employee. Leaders also find it motivational to share their personal feelings. Taking quality time to exhibit kindness, openness, compassion and genuine concern holds more power to motivate than many other techniques combined.
Excerpt: Leadership Roles Responsibilities: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. is the author of the 125 books included in Pinpoint Skill Development Training Series. He has also authored “Great! What Makes Leaders Great,” which was selected by “Foreword Review Magazine” as one of the top ten career books published in 2011, as well as a finalist in the “2011 Foreword Review Book of the Year Awards.”
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