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Motivating employees: 31 tips and examples

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One can Motivate employeesby pushing them to perform well. However, this is exhausting and sometimes causes frustration on both sides. A second way that Employee motivation is to manipulate them - with money, bonuses, promotions, status, promises. In short: with the help of the proverbial carrot in front of your nose. This works in the short term, as numerous studies repeatedly confirm, but it is unethical and, moreover, reveals a questionable attitude towards one's own colleagues: Those who lead in this way apparently consider their employees to be donkeys. Also literally. The third way to motivate employees, it is - very specifically - to be encouraged and achievements to be recognized ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Motivate employees: is it all manipulation?

Granted, that too could be some form of manipulation be. But only if the praise is insincere. However, with the good will to get the best out of people while giving them a choice, it is both fun and usually has the bigger ones too lasting effects.

Albert Bandura, psychology professor at Stanford University, was able to demonstrate the positive effect of encouragement: those praised in this way are more motivated, set higher goals, feel more committed to them, in some cases they even assume that they have better skills, which in turn improves their performance.

For example, Hyler Bracey, chairman and CEO of the Atlanta Consulting Group, finds himself stuck every day five coins in the pocket of his suit jacket. Every time during the day he praises an employee for a job well done, he puts a coin in the other pocket. This technique helped him achieve that Praise a habit to do - all coins have to change pockets every day.

Motivational research: what really motivates people

David McClelland comes to similar conclusions. According to his Studies There are three main needs that motivate us (and of course our employees):

  1. People want to achieve their goals.

    And they want this to be noticed. In short: you want to be proud of what you do. Accordingly, you avoid situations in which there is no prospect of success or where there is little chance of success.

  2. People seek social relationships and belonging.

    After all, success can only be enjoyed when it is confirmed by others. After all, recognition is usually followed by belonging. But because this does not apply universally, we try to connect to different (interest) groups.

  3. Power also motivates.

    The first two points automatically lead to a certain influence on the respective group: respect, status and influence increase. And that is also an enormous incentive. Psychological studies show again and again: The permanent feeling of powerlessness, on the other hand, demotivates and even makes people sick.

Even the author Richard Conniff has dealt with the subject Employee motivation intensely busy and found out: regular feedback can increase employee motivation and performance by 10 percent. Recognizing them for achieving goals and good performance and honestly recognizing them improved motivation by as much as 17 percent. It also improved relationships with each other and with the boss.

Praise and recognition are not the same

Quite a few equate praise with recognition, and both terms are often used synonym used. But that's not right. There is a crucial one difference:

  • praise

    is a form of spontaneous appreciation. It has to be as specific as possible so that it works and the promised one knows why he or she is receiving it. The boss as well as colleagues or customers can praise you. This form of appreciation is comparable to an occasional pat on the back.

  • recognition

    is more of an attitude than spontaneous appreciation: someone recognizes the regular quality or performance of a person - and respects and values ​​the person for it. Recognition doesn't have to be specific, on the contrary: it assesses the overall picture. And she doesn't necessarily have to express herself verbally, but when she does, it is usually through qualified feedback, in more detail than a spontaneous pat on the back. Most feel whether they are recognized or not.

Regular praise on the job is therefore an important motivator, no question about it. But in order for employees to remain motivated in the long term, they have to Recognition behind it feel.

The myth of motivation: is it even possible to motivate employees?

A lot has been said about motivation for years researched and argued. One question is always in the focus of the debate:

Is it even possible to motivate other people?

Reinhard Sprenger, author of the bestseller “The Motivation Myth” says that this is impossible. Companies like it through all sorts of incentives Company cars, bonuses and gifts tried again and again, but the efforts come to nothing. Instead, a vicious circle is set in motion in which ultimately the reward and no longer the Work in the foreground stands. As with a drug, the reward has to increase steadily in order to keep motivation going.

Dieter Frey, social psychologist at LMU Munich, is also convinced that consistent motivation and enjoyment of work Are privileges that few enjoy. This applies to both bosses and their employees:

Many people are motivated because they need the work to secure their livelihood. You need money to live and that's why you go to work. But the satisfaction of this existential need is an extrinsic, i.e. an outside reason, to go to work every day. But only very few are intrinsically motivated in the long term, i.e. motivated from within. That is why managers have to question the various longings and interests of their colleagues anew every day - in other words, find an answer to how performance and fairness can be reconciled. A good mood helps, but it is not enough.

On the other hand, praise and recognition from the boss often count more than from one's life partner. At least that is the result of surveys such as those recently carried out by the Forsa Institute for the Happiness Institute (a Coca-Cola subsidiary) among more than 2000 people in Germany. Result: For more than one in two (54 percent) that is best praise for the job from the boss. Only then does the encouraging effect follow through a nice word, a thank you or a pat on the back from the partner (47 percent) or from acquaintances (43 percent).

And it's also true: everyone wants to be valued, managers as well as employees. Even if it seems like we are independent and self-reliant, we need others to strengthen our self-esteem. And the more motivation is, the stronger Enthusiasm and self-esteem that evokes recognition and may even take the form of a story that the employee can tell his family, friends, and colleagues many years later. It's the reward of our work and achievement - kind of value-adding feedback.

Most of the rewards fall into two categories:

  • Formal rewards

    are usually planned, structured programs that are repeated over time and carried out over years, for example awards such as employee of the Month or Service provider of the year.

  • Informal rewards

    tend to happen immediately, are spontaneous forms of sincere gratitude and recognition of good work. They are often individual, funny and characterize a special behavior, such as special customer service, cost-reducing ideas or excellent teamwork, or they are given for special services such as completing an interim report or a project or closing an important sale.

However, one thing is crucial above all: That means motivation in the first place function can, it must be personal and situation-related. When it comes to recognition, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Therefore, therefore and therefore:

  • Adjust reward to the person. Start with the individual's personal preferences and reward them in ways that he or she finds rewarding. In order not to let the effect of a recognition be based on speculation, you have to ask your employees what they value most. You might even create index cards that list all the types of recognition that the respective employee values.
  • Adjust the reward for performance. Rewards should be tailored to reflect the importance of achievement. Of course, someone who completes a two-year project should be rewarded more handsomely than someone who just did you a favor. And, of course, the reward should reflect the amount of time you invested in planning and executing it, and the amount you had to invest.
  • Be timely and specific. To be effective, rewards must come as quickly as possible according to the desired behavior or outcome. If this happens weeks or months later, the reward will hardly motivate the employee to repeat his or her actions. You should always say why the reward is being presented, i.e. how it relates to the performance.

ABC of motivation

Of course, self-motivation also plays an important role in everything - especially if you are convinced that others cannot really drive, infect and inspire you, as long as you are not motivated to do so yourself. We have put together 26 important factors relating to motivation in this ABC, which you can download here as a PDF free of charge.

Motivate employees: More than 30 ideas and examples

Some of those portrayed here Ideas and examples come from the book by Bob Nelson "1001 ideas to reward & motivate employees", but many are also your own experiences and proven examples from other, exemplary companies, which you can of course emulate ...

General ways to motivate employees

  1. Show interest.

    Of all the examples given, this is the easiest and most effective way to encourage others: Show that you really care about what the other is doing or trying to achieve. Ask questions, admire. Nothing seems stronger.

  2. Appreciate you.

    Literally: So don't just pat on the back, appreciate the value of the cause and acknowledge the great importance of this post. People hate the feeling of being just an insignificant cog in the gearbox - or (worse) the spare wheel. Conversely: If you attach great importance to your plans and projects - preferably publicly - this immediately affects your self-confidence, builds up and arouses new enthusiasm.

  3. Ask for advice.

    It is the most subtle form of praise - and hardly anyone can resist this proposal, passing on their skills and knowledge, because they are asked to. First, because by doing so you are exalting him (He the master - you the disciple); second, because it can be immortalized in this way. After all, you will use it to continue his profound knowledge. And in the end, it's just a very edifying feeling to have left the world with something good of you.

  4. Show gratitude.

    There are people who like to help. As soon as they see problems, they tackle or do the things that need to be done without being asked, as if it were taken for granted. But it is not. And a lack of gratitude can make these people bitter very quickly. Then they just feel taken advantage of. Sad and with serious consequences - because it is not uncommon for them to be the good souls who enormously enrich a company or a family.

  5. Return the favor.

    The pop icon Madonna sings the line in her hit "Sorry" Don't explain yourself cause talk is cheap. She is right! A thank you, occasional applause and appreciation are good, but in the long run they cannot replace actions. Talking is cheap. Return the favor every now and then - and show how valuable the previous favor or performance actually was to you.

  6. Surprise you.

    Most people who achieve above average or are outstandingly committed have a good sense that this is also the case. That is why you usually expect some kind of reaction from your environment. The least is praise or recognition. But the encouraging effect is much greater when you go beyond such expectations. For example, if you give the person a day off because of their performance. Or treat him and his partner to a romantic weekend in a luxury hotel - after all, the two of them have hardly seen each other in the past few weeks because of the important project ... Regardless of how, be creative, spontaneous and go beyond the average when you appreciate them.

  7. Find a common goal.

    You have a specific goal in mind and want your team to support it. Then it has to match the ideas and wishes of each team member. Ask yourself: What are the goals of the employees? Where is there a common denominator?

  8. Be true to yourself.

    Take a clear stand. Nothing confuses employees like volatility. Decide on a clear line and stick to it. Emphasize that you are paying attention to the results of the work, not how long someone has been in the office.

  9. Use positive language.

    If you want to inspire your team, refrain from prohibitions, restrictions, negative formulations and sentences with “not”. Instead of addressing the increasing number of customer complaints, try: “We want more satisfied customers again. This is how we can do it ... ”This allows you to concentrate on the positive aspects and involve your employees. Better still with the question to the team: How do we do it?

  10. Don't judge anyone for mistakes.

    In order to surpass yourself, it is also part of entering unfamiliar territory and trying out new things. Sometimes you are rewarded with success, sometimes not. Sure, bosses get annoyed about the mistakes their employees make - especially when they have serious consequences. But still never give the employee the feeling of being a nut. Because he or she can (and should) learn from it. But more important was that he or she thought and acted entrepreneurially.

  11. Get the fun.

    It is best to work in a relaxed and easy-going working atmosphere. With all efforts, however, the fun of the job should not be lost. Allow funny moments, mutual laughter connects. Likewise celebrating successes.

  12. How some companies motivate their employees

  13. When any of Marty Stowe's employees at Paychex's New England regional office work extra hard, Stowe sends one handwritten note to his spouse. If this employee outdoes himself in the process, Stowe will present one gift card for a dinner for two.
  14. At Sea World San Diego, the team leaders hand over so-called Spotlight cards to employees when they see that they are doing a good job. They write down what they have observed and what they like about it. Then get at least two other team leaders or supervisors to sign the card and give it to the employee. A copy will be made on Information board the employee posted.
  15. In Marietta, Georgia, Wellstar Health System introduced a simple leadership recognition program called "The Seven Qualities of Stars". Managers receive preprinted sticky notes. They can do that properties tick who are embodied by colleagues and describe why they should be recognized for doing so. Every manager who is granted five or more qualities is publicly recognized at the next leadership meeting and can choose one of five Books choose.
  16. One more informal way we recognize the achievement of teammates at EMC Mortgage Corporation in Irving, Texas is by "saying this to my amazing teammates." For this purpose, messages are written on colored paper and attached to the Wall in the room of the teammate attached. This happens in the absence of the person concerned, so that the fan mail is a pleasant surprise.
  17. The New England Aquarium allows employees to show appreciation to colleagues with a “Thank You Cod” (a cod-shaped card). The employee receives half of the card and the other half ends up in the quarterly raffle of Gift vouchers for paid leisure time compensation.
  18. Kaiser Permanente's Angela Gann sends a few personal lines to everyone she interviews for a job. However, she has a special one for new hires Greeting ritual ready: On the morning of the first day at work, she decorates the new employee's workplace with glittering stars or banners.
  19. Don Eggleston, Head of Organizational Development at SSM Healthcare in St. Louis, says: “I make a note on my calendar and send cards or cards to employees Flowers on the anniversary important events in their life. For example, I sent cards on the anniversary of a parent's death or graduation or a child's birthday. With this I can discreetly let the employees know that I am not indifferent to them without sticking my nose into their affairs. "
  20. At Business First in Louisville, Kentucky, the advertising department sends one to all of them daily motivational voice message - it could be a joke or a success story or whatever helps the team to stay in a good mood during the working day.
  21. A division of Hewlett Packard held one in San Diego Appreciation Day for an exceptional collaborator, computer scientist Jennifer Wallick. Colleagues reserved 10-minute blocks of time to visit her, give her flowers, and thank her for what she had done for the company. It was honored every 15 minutes throughout the day.
  22. When she worked at Time Warner in Milwaukee, Noelle Sment used a powerful anti-stress strategy:Bad day chalkboard". The names of all employees were attached to this board with a magnet and could be moved. This showed who was under severe stress, had personal problems, struggled with difficult customers and the like. Originally the board was intended as a warning system for others. But soon the group began to cheer anyone who had a "bad day" - and with great enthusiasm.
  23. Chris Giangrasso, director of management and organizational development at Aramark Corporation in Philadelphia (event management) recommends a Recognition day to organize. Aramark plans a full day in honor of this person (for example Bob Jones Day) and sends a notification to all employees stating the date and the reason for the honor. The honored person can enjoy various extras, such as computer banners and a free lunch.
  24. Wells Fargo Bank has developed some unusual, no-cost rewards. For example, a Dish in the canteen named after a deserving employee.
  25. When Southwest Airlines ranked first for punctuality and baggage handling and had the fewest complaints per customer for the fifth year in a row, dedicated it employs its 25,000 employees planeby putting their names on the overhead bins above the seats.
  26. Memphis Federal Express wrote the name of an employee's child on the nose of every aircraft it bought. The company ran a Raffle through to choose the name and flew the child's family to the manufacturing plant for the christening.
  27. At Xerox, a customer service center makes the decision about the Work schedule Leave it to the employees themselves. As staff teams took responsibility for planning, morale increased, customer service improved, and absenteeism was reduced by 30 percent.
  28. At Chaparral Steel in Midlothian, Texas, the employees enjoy many Freedoms and TrustTo use the company's money and resources to improve work processes. With this freedom, two maintenance workers were able to purchase the parts needed to invent and build a machine for joining steel bars at a cost of $ 60,000 - nearly $ 200,000 less than the cost of the old machines.
  29. The store managers at the Crate and Barrel furniture store in Houston have launched a program for their employees, which also includes a “unexpected hour of free time" belongs. Once a week, each store manager chooses a sales representative, takes on his shift for an hour and says: "You work hard, I appreciate that - take an hour off and come back rested to sell more."
  30. Jeff White, manager at Chick-fil-A in the Renaissance Tower in Detroit, rewards members of his team for special achievements with an additional paid holiday.
  31. Northrop Grumman, an aerospace company and other government contractors in San Diego have a nine-hour day - that's what they have to do every second Friday free. Employee surveys have shown that this regulation of working hours is valued more highly by many than healthcare benefits and that it is a key factor in employee retention.
  32. Workman Publishing in New York offers “May Days”, which means that employees can take either a Monday or a Friday off once a month from May to September with the approval of their manager. This way they can during the summer months extended weekends enjoy.

Pizza motivates employees more than money

Instead of spending money, you would rather give your employees pizza! Really now. We wouldn't mention that if it weren't for the renowned behavioral economist Dan Ariely, of all people, behind the experiments.

The research results come from Ariely's new book "Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations". The psychology professor was doing research in an Israeli factory that produces computer chips for Intel. The charm about it: Here you canproductivityof employees measure precisely.

The Employees are then motivated at the beginning of the week:

  • Some of the workforce was told that if they did a good job, they would get an personal praise from the boss.
  • The second group were Bonus payments promised for this - around 30 extra dollars a day.
  • The third group were in turn Pizza vouchers promised.
  • The fourth control group was not given any incentives.

The Result surprised because also an old behavioral scientist like Ariely:

  • The potential Raise had the lowest effect - a motivation boost of 4.9 percent. According to the study, however, it also reduced productivity.
  • The prospect of praise and recognition on the other hand, it had an effect: Here the employees increased their performance by an impressive 6.6 percent.
  • That was topped, however, by the Pizza group: They even increased their output by 6.7 percent.

Of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, has the nice bon mot:

If you can't get enough of the people in a meeting with two pizzas, there are too many people in the meeting.

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[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]

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October 30, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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