5 Steps to Motivating Employees

September, 2009

In good times or bad, motivating employees is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of running a business. Nicholas Mitsakos, chairman of Arcadia Holdings Inc., explains how to keep workers excited for the workweek, or “how to help your team stay on track.”

BE A ROLE MODEL

Mitsakos says actions always speak louder than words. So, while a powerful speech may impress people, employees will be more inspired if they see their boss come to work on time and work hard every day. “What you say does not matter if you want to motivate somebody. It’s what you do,” Mitsakos says. “Be a good role model because a good attitude and optimism permeate an organization.”

BE OPEN AND DIRECT

During hard times, many bosses sugarcoat bad news. But Mitsakos says there’s nothing more discouraging than working in an uncertain environment. To ensure your team is confident in their responsibilities, Mitsakos recommends holding meetings at least once a week where you should be open, direct and blunt about the direction of the company. “Be clear about the future. Say, ‘This is the situation and here’s the plan.’ People like knowing what to expect.”

ASK FOR FEEDBACK

Along with group meetings, Mitsakos says, never underestimate the power of talking with employees one-on-one. He says that before gathering the entire staff you should privately meet with key individuals and ask for their feedback. “The way to get smarter is to let people tell you information you need. ‘Here’s what I’m thinking, what do you think?’ ” Mitsakos suggests. Once your top employees are on the same page as you, it will be easier to rally the rest in a group forum.

HAVE A CLEAR VISION

When sharing your company vision with employees, Mitsakos emphasizes clarity and fortitude. “You have to have a vision with great clarity and specificity. In turn, your fortitude will motivate employees.” To ensure that everyone’s working toward a shared goal, make sure you not only explain in detail why the goal is best for the company, but also how each individual plays a role in achieving it.

SHARE RESPONSIBILITIES

“If you expect more from people,” says Mitsakos, “you typically get more.” While it may seem counterintuitive, employees are normally more motivated to do a better job when given greater responsibilities. In fact, Mitsakos says that a common reason people quit jobs is because they feel underappreciated. Instead of always following what’s written in the job profiles, try to be creative in allocating responsibilities. Mitsakos says he constantly asks himself, “Do I have the right person doing the right job?”

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