20 Ways a Manager can Motivate Their Employees

Nothing is as powerful as a team of motivated employees that is led by a visionary manager. According to Jon Gordon, the author of “Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture”, motivation is the most significant emotion employees could bring to work. Nothing else matters that much.

One of the main responsibilities of any manager is to figure out how to motivate the employees, team, or teams they are supervising, and accomplish their organization’s or company’s goals. Fortunately, there are ways that managers can control factors that are essential to achieving this.

The main factor under any manager’s control is the relationship they have with each employee or team. Another important factor—may be the second important one—is the organizational culture or work environment that a manager nurtures under their watch.

So how can a manager motivate their employees and get them to follow their lead? What can a manager do to energize their staff and get them devoted in a way that can achieve desired results?

Manager can motivate their employees by:

1. Leading with imaginativeness or vision

Employees are motivated by managers who are visionary leaders and actually know what they are up to. Good employees need to be convinced that their efforts at work are heading towards something worthwhile. That’s where a manager’s vision plays an important role in motivating their employees.

Without a compelling vision from the manager, employees may likely work on low morale and end up having only little boosts in morale. However, with a compelling vision, employees will have more desire to achieve both corporate and individual goals.

2. Nurturing open communication and becoming more familiar with employees

When employees have a personal connection with a manager, it makes them more motivated not to disappoint the manager or let them down.

Having and nurturing open communication with employees or staff is essential in sustaining employee motivation. People hardly feel comfortable working under a manager or boss who is seemingly unapproachable or reserved.

A manager can make themself more personable to their employees when they encourage familiarity and sociability in the workplace and strengthen one-on-one relationships with employees.

Familiarity can help a manager to better understand their employees or team, discover what motivates each team member individually, and easily remove any mental barriers that could come between manager and employee.

Positive relationships can be fostered by holding regular staff meetings, team bonding exercises, and ensuring that there is effective communication between manager and staff.

3. Creating a friendly work environment and encouraging teamwork

Employees spend a large chunk of time in their workplace. Therefore, any manager should do all they can to ensure that their workplace is as appealing and friendly as possible, and team members are communicating with each other as clearly and effectively as possible.

When a manager creates a welcoming, friendly, comfortable, and pleasant work environment, employees will be more interested in going to work every day and working with their whole hearts, instead of part of them.

Reducing or removing the impact of hierarchy and bureaucracy in the work environment can go a long way in encouraging teamwork under a manager or boss, and keeping employees motivated.

4. Monitoring and following up with employees: showing them care and understanding

Employees will naturally have concerns, queries, or questions concerning their work or work environment. Following up on employees’ concerns, work, and work ethic is as equally important as monitoring them or making inquiries about them.

Although a manager might not be able to answer every query or resolve every issue, at least following up with their employees in any way possible would prove to employees that their concerns are being considered, rather than ignored, or referred to someone else.

Even if a manager doesn’t have enough time for staff, it would be impactful if they dedicate some time during team or staff meetings for employees to voice or write down their concerns.

Like everyone else, employees are also human beings—not emotionless robots—who need motivation and support to execute their jobs.

5. Appreciating or acknowledging employees’ work

It can be easy for managers to overlook the day-to-day tasks of employees who work tirelessly to complete their tasks. It may even seem absurd, unreasonable, or unnecessary for managers to appreciate their employees each time they do their work correctly.

However, if a manager finds time to acknowledge or recognize even minor achievements by employees, it can go a long way in keeping the employees motivated.

People love to feel acknowledged or appreciated. A manager who takes time to thank their staff can keep them motivated, and attract increased productivity and more success.

In a study on employee motivation over 40 years, it was observed that appreciation was the second most important driver of motivation, behind desirable wage or remuneration.

6. Providing well-defined goals and career paths for advancement

Many times, managers don’t emphasize organizational goals enough, or they don’t inform employees about their respective responsibilities in a comprehensive manner.

Some managers mistakenly assume that their employees have clearly figured out or understood the goals of their organization, even when they obviously haven’t!

Employees should be clearly informed about what they are expected to do so that, in addition to being motivated, they can continue to advance, career-wise, and have a smooth ride on achieving their set goals.

7. Convincing employees that their boss—the manager—is worth working for

Employees usually look up to their manager as a leader if the manager is considerate and sets an example for the rest to follow. Considerate managers easily motivate their employees and carry them along.

Remember the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Most bosses and managers would do well to remember that they were once employees too, and they should avoid doing all the negative things their bosses once did. They should avoid doing things that could drive employees crazy and make them quit work.

By having unrealistic expectations and being crabby and unapproachable, some managers unfortunately make work a living nightmare for their employees. Each manager should put themselves in their employees’ shoes and ensure that they’re the same person they would like to work for.

A miserable manager can unintentionally succeed in ruining an employee’s job or work ethic, even if the employee loves their job. An employee’s motivation can be sustained when they have a manager or someone they’d really like to work for.

8. Practicing transparency

A manager who lacks transparency, trust, or credibility, leaves their employees in the dark and gives their organization a bad image, not only in the eyes of their employees, but also in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, a transparent manager motivates and gains the trust of their employees, and the public as well.

9. Remaining upbeat and staying positive

It’s popularly believed and has been proven time and time again that being upbeat or pleasantly optimistic is contagious.

It’s easier for employees to be motivated if their manager is someone who maintains positivity and is enthused to be at work each day: employees are inclined to be happy to work for a manager who has good vibes and is naturally delighted and happy about their work and organization.

On the other hand, people find it hard to please and work for someone who is apparently difficult to please.

10. Creating and maintaining an agile work environment

An “agile work environment” refers to a “fast-paced work environment” or an environment where communication proceeds rapidly and value is placed on constant adjustments and changes that deliver results as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Fast-paced environments are engaging, inspiring, and exciting, and employees are more involved in projects that can fulfil their psychological desire for instant gratification, instead of delayed gratification. Managers can exploit this aspect of human desire by involving employees in projects to deliver fast, diverse, and effective results.

11. Encouraging innovation, creativity, and welcoming new ideas

Each employee is unique and should be encouraged by their manager to be creative and voice out any suggestions or ideas, regardless of how meaningless or ridiculous they may sound.

Small or silly ideas from employees could be brainstormed sooner or later into something brilliant or exceptional. So, it’s important for managers to motivate their staff to take risks, venture into new stuff, and be innovative, even if mistakes may occur.

Employees become more and more daring and competitive—but in a good way—if they are motivated to be more creative in the face of uncertainty or fear.

12. Incentivizing the workplace: reward deserving employees

One major way to motivate employees is by providing rewards or incentives for successfully accomplished goals. Incentives and rewards can be motivating and make jobs to be fun and gratifying; in addition, it boosts employee morale and enthusiasm and can create friendly competition in workplaces.

Imagine how competitive each employee could become if their manager puts up a reward of $10, $100, or $1,000, or offers to give employees an afternoon off if they hit a particular target.

Providing employees with incentives or ongoing opportunities in recognition of their efforts will help to keep them motivated for prolonged periods of time.

13. Encouraging employee flexibility and autonomy

One survey determined that 59% of respondents preferred “flexibility” to salary or other benefits, while 77% preferred to work for a company that offers them the flexibility to work autonomously—from anywhere.

Managers who value autonomy motivate their employees by trusting them and giving them encouragement and space to discharge their duties at the workplace and outside the workplace which could also be at home.

Flexibility in a work environment can be interpreted and applied in various ways. It’s important to note that what is flexible for one employee may not be flexible for another.

14. Enhancing relationships by supporting bonding outside of the workplace 

Giving employees a chance or platform to bond outside of the work environment makes it easier for them to associate much more with each other and build more trust among them.

There can be more personal, stronger, and meaningful connections between employees of the same team if they are also allowed to associate in informal and non-work-related settings. In fact, associating together outdoors or away from a work environment can also serve as a motivational boost.

Trust has a positive impact on the workplace and creates a stronger culture of transparency and teamwork from which team members can better motivate each another.

15. Keeping employees consistently fuelled regardless of their location

There is a reason why the following popular slogan seemingly resonates with everyone: “You’re not you when you’re hungry”.

Almost everybody has been there one or more times in their life: a situation whereby we can’t tell whether we’re hungry, tired, or both, but we know full well that we’ve reached a tipping point where we’re hardly able to continue working because of hunger—not sufficient fuelled up!

Whether work is being done in the office or remotely—from home—it’s essential for a manager to ensure that their employees have the fuel they need to get work done and succeed. Good food, healthy snacks, or beverages should be provided periodically to give employees some extra motivation boost.

16. Acknowledging and respecting employees’ work-life balance

It’s important to have some level of balance between work activities and personal life activities which are both necessary. Employees will hardly be able to get the needed motivation to work and produce quality results if they are overworked and don’t have time for their personal life.

Employees would feel much more contented, happier, and comfortable if their respective jobs would allow them to take the time or a day off to focus on self-care or tackle family or emergent issues.

17. Taking workplace culture to the virtual world

In the present-day or contemporary times, regardless of where employees are working—in the office or remotely—it’s likely that a significant amount of contact or work occurs virtually.

Therefore, it makes so much sense to extend some of the company’s or organization’s culture to the virtual realm too: chat groups, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

18. Encouraging friendly competition

A competitive work environment is a fruitful or productive environment. Setting up some level of friendly competition among employees could go a long way in helping them and the organization to grow to greater heights. Managers can motivate employees by ensuring they participate in engaging, healthy, and uplifting challenges or competitions.

19. Avoid pitting employees against each another

As previously noted, friendly competition can be a good motivator for employees. However, things could become wayward or awry when friendly completion deforms into a cutthroat or ruthless competition or a culture of selfishness that seeks to ruin the happiness and stability of each employee in an organization.

Any manager who consistently pits the performance of individual employees against each other in a destructive manner is bound to attract failure at some point in time.

20. Managing employee conflicts appropriately

It’s not always possible to prevent conflict in a work environment. Managers would do well to ensure that any issues among staff are brought to their attention and resolved amicably and promptly.

A manager who is fair and unbiased when dealing with conflict between two or more employees will be able to resolve issues quickly and help their employees focus on their jobs instead of unnecessary drama which can be destructive in every regard.

Conclusion

As a manager, you may like to motivate your employees by applying the ideas listed in this article to motivate your employees. However, when trying the ideas, you may need to make modifications or adjustments to discover the ones that are more or less effective or don’t work at all.

Every work environment is different, and some of the ideas listed in this article may work well for your company, while other ones may not be suitable enough.

However, you can perfect your motivation strategy as you become more familiar with individual employees in your organization and get to understand their behaviors and what they are good or not good at.

Regardless, never forget that any employee who is interested in your organization and enjoys coming to work is a worthy investment.

9 thoughts on “20 Ways a Manager can Motivate Their Employees

  1. This is a great post, and we completely agree with the very first item on this list. Leading with imagination and vision goes a long way in motivating a team. We recently finished reading Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, and he stresses the importance of leading with a vision. Not only should managers have a vision of where the group or organization should be down the road, but have an idea of why they are in their market niche. Understanding why makes attaching to a cause all that more motivating. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you’re welcome, Specter. thanks for that stretched insight (vision of the manager + HAVING AN IDEA OF WHERE THEY ARE IN THEIR MARKET NICHE—very important). knowing one’s position in the journey is so essential

      Liked by 1 person

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