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How Do You Motivate Your Employees?

There’s an old management saying about the carrot or the stick. Carrots incent behavior, and sticks intimidate behavior. I’m going with the carrots.

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Want some more? Of course you do. We all do. The old adage goes, if some is good, more is better, right? In most cases, this is true, and today I’m talking about employee productivity, so of course more is better.

This is a brand-new year, and it’s a perfect time to look at ways to make our new year more productive. Employee productivity is a complex subject and way too long to discuss in this forum. However, one of the key components of it, I believe, is motivation.

According to Wikipedia, motivation is: the reason for people’s actions, desires and needs. Motivation is also one’s direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior.

I’m the first one to admit that some people are self-motivated; for whatever reason, they just want to excel. Unfortunately, most need some type of outside force to nudge them into more productive behaviors.

Leaders know when and how to motivate their organizations. Make no mistake, there is no one style that motivates everyone. A good leader knows their people and uses different styles for different individuals.

There’s an old management saying about the carrot or the stick. Carrots incent behavior, and sticks intimidate behavior. Over time, both styles have been tested. My opinion is that long term, the stick becomes ineffective and can lead to burnout and even loss of good employees.

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Employees want to be fairly compensated, recognized for good performance and gain satisfaction from their work. This doesn’t sound hard when you write it out, but doing it on a consistent basis with multiple employees is downright hard. It takes years of honing your skills and constant effort to stay sharp at it. You have to know your employees, and they need to understand you and your style.

Clear and open communication of goals and objectives is critical. They need to know what you expect of them and also know there is support if needed. Things don’t always go as planned. Employees need to know they will be supported with training and resources when the need develops to allow them to attain the goals. Over time, following and building a style that supports these concepts will inevitably make you a better leader.

The choice is yours. I’m going with the carrots.

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