Keys to Motivating Your Employees

In a book I wrote five years ago for NKBA titled The Complete Business Management Guide for Kitchen and Bath Professionals, I spoke about the importance of employees to the success of your overall kitchen and bath firm. In the book, I noted, "The key to entrepreneurial success is getting others to commit to your vision and to work at making it a reality. Few successful businesses are the result of one person's solo efforts."

Another point I made in the book is, "In addition to finding the most qualified people to work in your business, you need to come up with effective ways to manage and motivate themYour technical skills can get your business started, but it's your human relations skills that will keep it going."

Start Talking
Communication is at the heart and soul of motivating people. Employees are motivated when managers provide clear expectations, instructions, information and time frames.

This creates within the employee a sense of security, respect, power and control in his or her job. Plus, managers need to communicate encouragement during the process, as well as acknowledgement and appreciation on achievement of outcomes.

One of your responsibilities as a manager is to continually present challenges to your employees. It's a known fact that productivity increases when employees are presented with growth opportunities and challenges. Most employees, when given the chance to leave their comfort zones, benefit from the stimulation and enjoyment of a new challenge.

Conversely, when employees experience a lack of freedom, choice and control in their jobs, the response is usually to play the role of the victim and blame others rather than take personal responsibility. Creative problem solving, based on the philosophy of employee involvement in task analysis, decision making and self-generated solutions, motivates the employee to take ownership of problems and responsibility for the success of the resolution.

Frequently, employees don't have the know-how or strategies in place to complete certain tasks. Consequently, they will be less motivated and will often experience stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Another one of your responsibilities as a manager is to be a coach, a mentor. Managers who coach employees enable them to experience a sense of power and purpose. More importantly, during the process, managers often help employees discover personal success strategies they can utilize on future projects.

Make the Time
I continually hear from owners/ managers that they know they should have a formal training program. And, they acknowledge that job descriptions are a good thing and that job performance evaluations are a good idea. However, managers say they are so busy doing their own work that they just don't have the time to implement these managerial tools.

Well, you can't afford not to take the time to run your business as a professional organization. If you're tired of employee turnover, low productivity and poor morale, these will get better when you make a commitment to becoming a complete professional manager.

If you follow these simple guidelines, employees are bound to become more motivated:

  • Motivation Comes From Caring Not Scaring! Fear should never be used as a motivation strategy. It may get you what you want now, but it will set you up for what you don't want in the future in the form of employee anger, resentment and lack of enthusiasm and commitment. When employees feel that managers care about them and that they are perceived as respected and valuable members of the organization, they are more cooperative, enthusiastic and committed to the organizational goals.
  • Employee Motivation Grows and Blossoms in the Right Environment. When employees feel nurtured, appreciated, acknowledged and respected, they'll give 100% of their time, effort and commitment in return. The job of the owner/manager is to create a work environment that provides employees with the opportunity to attain their goals. In this environment, communication is open and honest. Coaching for success is on-going, training for performance is continuous and creative problem solving is a way of life. Managers also need to provide sincere expressions of recognition, appreciation and acknowledgement to nourish their employees' feelings of self worth. Remember to take time to say "Thanks!" and "You did a great job."
  • Walk Your Talk. Modeling the behavior you want from your employees is the most effective way to change behavior. If you want your employees to arrive on time, you should be in early or at least at an accepted time. Becoming more aware of what motivates you will increase your understanding of what motivates other people.
  • Make Work Fun. Laughter is not only good for the soul, but good for the mind and body. Having fun is a basic human need and when it's met in the workplace, productivity goes up. Ask for volunteers to come up with ways to bring enjoyment into the workplace. Doing this will lower stress levels and provide opportunities for employees to build a rapport with each other, which is the foundation for successful team building.
  • Use the Law of Attraction. The law of attraction states that, whatever we focus on will bring to ourselves. If you focus on the lack of motivation in your employees, you'll find more and more examples of it. When you seek to learn more about motivation and create an atmosphere that fosters it, you'll find more and more examples of motivation in the workplace.
  • Foster an Ongoing Commitment. Motivating employees is a learned art and skill. It is an ongoing process because people are continually growing and changing. As your employees achieve something they want or value, they then seek to achieve more of the same.

I am a believer and fan of goals (personal and business), of mission statements (personal and business) and of self assessment. I have developed both a manager's and an employee's self-assessment questionnaire on motivation. It's a means of rating yourself in this all-important area. The space for this article doesn't allow room to share it, but, if you'd like a copy, e-mail me at and I'll send it to you.