Motivating Today’s Employees: How to Get the Most Out of Your Team

Motivating Today’s Employees: How to Get the Most Out of Your Team

By Zach Heller

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz


Companies large and small face a different world today than they have in the past. Changing marketplaces, customers, and technologies mean that the old way of doing things is just that, the old way. And companies, and their managers, need to find new ways of working to support and prepare for this change.

But not all change is external. Employees are changing too. And the managers that know how to work with and motivate today’s employees will get better results from their teams and their business.

Shawn Murphy of Switch & Shift states it very clearly when he writes, “As a manager, your role is not to make yourself look good. It’s to support your entire team’s success in doing great work – work that matters.”

As managers, we cannot expect the same motivation techniques that used to work, to continue to work on a new age of employees. They are looking for something different in a job, something more personal, something that they can own.

So now that we’ve established the need for new motivational tools, what are they?

  1. Clear Communication of Goals and Expectations
    Your employees want to know more than just what they are responsible for. Yes, they want to know what you expect of them. But more than that, they want to know how that impacts the business as a whole. What are the business goals for the year, the quarter, or the month? And how can they help the company reach them?
  2. Make Employees a Part of Success and Failure
    A critical factor in the happiness of employees today is how much ownership they have over their roles. They want to be able to make decisions and get the job done on their terms. That may be difficult for managers, but giving your team that kind of freedom will definitely lead to a more motivated workforce. And when they know the goals, they should know whether or not you’re meeting or exceeding them. Successes should be celebrated, failures reviewed for learning.
  3. Regular Performance Reviews
    Employees want feedback on how they are performing, and how they can better serve the company’s needs. They don’t want to be an island all by themselves. Managers should spend time with each member of their team, both one on one and as a group, to regularly review performance and map out growth opportunities.
  4. Available Help and Training
    The motivated employee is one who wants to grow and develop professionally. They want to do a good job in their current role so that they can qualify for a new, more important role in the future. And to motivate them to do their best, it is important they feel like the company they work for wants the same thing for them. So offering on the job training, paid workshops and events, and readily available help and mentoring at every turn will go a long way.
  5. Encouragement and Acknowledgement
    The best managers want to best for their employees. Part of that means giving credit where credit is due. No matter where an idea, a strategy, or anything else comes from, those people responsible for successes should be acknowledged publicly and privately. Highlight individual accomplishments and you will get more of them, I promise.
  6. Create an Environment of Play
    Not every company can be Google, but you needn’t look further than the tech giant, and others in their space, to see that corporate culture goes a long way towards employee motivation. Employees today want to work somewhere they are happy to spend time. Open office spaces that are fun and inventive are sure to keep morale high and good employees in place. Encourage interaction, innovation, and inventiveness. Not only will the office be more fun, you will get more done.


Am I missing anything? Share your ideas for how managers can develop programs that help to motivate their teams in the comments section.

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