Startups spoke to a panel of entrepreneurs to find out their top tips for motivating staff.
- Treat everyone as an individual: Respect that different team members have different needs. “Every incentive doesn’t necessarily motivate every individual,” For example, if a member of the team is in a long distance relationship, I may want to let him leave early on Friday afternoons. As a result, he’ll be more inclined to put extra hours in during the week to keep on top of his workload.
- Praise good work and offer feedback: When someone does a good job, we congratulate them in front of everyone. Regular feedback and encouragement makes everyone feel positive. It is important to be genuine, so I try find something that has impressed us, even if it is as simplest and let them know that they are doing it well.
- Lead by example: A productive team needs a productive leader. As the top dog you need to embody the company’s brand yourself and be true to its ethics. However equally important is that employees see you putting in as much energy as them – if not more. A good leader needs to lead by example, by role-modeling the behaviors that are expected of staff. Be excited by new challenges, show real enthusiasm for projects and demonstrate your love of the job. Positivity breeds positivity.
- Encourage people to take a break: Whilst an employee who doesn’t optimize their annual leave might seem like a good deal for your business, everyone needs to take a break in order to operate at their full potential. Approach people who haven’t used their holiday entitlement and encourage them to get away. This will also show employees that you care about their wellbeing.
- Offer benefits that boost morale (but don’t break the bank): While large organizations may be able to offer corporate holidays in sunny climes, a gesture as simple as having fruit delivered to the office each week can show employees that you care. Tailor benefits to your workforce. Events don’t have to be expensive, just well-planned and thought out.
- Where possible, invite staff to bring their partners as well: Having a good relationship with people’s partners really helps. All those times when people stay late, instead of getting home to an earful, they get a much more sympathetic response.”
- Give ownership to your team: While new employees need clear instructions and guidance, once they are on the right track, let go of the reins. Leave them to be led by their own initiative and congratulate them for doing so. “Allow them to work well and without much input. It’s the little things that give ownership to teams and allow them to feel trusted and motivated. As well as inspiring self-confidence, this hands-off approach may allow employees to navigate your firm from a new perspective, potentially exposing inefficiencies, untapped opportunities and prospective innovations.
- Run a ‘no blame’ culture: When something goes wrong don’t blame the person; analyze the reasons and change whatever actually caused the issue in the first place – learn and improve. If you are always pointing the finger, employees will feel tense, which can restrict initiative and innovation.
- Communication is key: By keeping open lines of communication with employees and listening to their ideas, they will feel more connected to the progression of the business and thus more motivated to contribute to its future. I recommend twice weekly meetings “when the whole company comes together and shares the successes of the week and what is going on in the company as a whole” as well as an “open door policy” to the top manager’s office. Simply showing employees that they are being listened to can be enough to boost morale.
- Be flexible: Respect that your employees have personal lives to balance with their work commitments, for example, they have to pick up their children, take care of a sick relative. To avoid completely forfeiting their labour, assist employees with flexible working by helping them to receive their work e-mails on their smartphone or home computer.
- Get the little things right: Sometimes getting the little things right is more influential than an occasional grand gesture. It is easy to underestimate the importance of basic essentials for a positive working environment. Conveniences that don’t cost the earth, like well-maintained toilets, basic kitchen facilities and filtered tap water.