As a business owner or manager, knowing exactly how to motivate employees is one of your most important skills.
You might be wondering why. Simply put, effectively motivating your employees is a surefire way to ensure your team performs at its peak. If you aren’t the rah-rah type, then you might be spinning your wheels while looking for ways to pump up your team.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll share a variety of easy and fast ways that you can motivate your team. And if you aren’t the speech-giving type, we’ll include tips that even the most introverted manager will feel comfortable putting into place.
With that above in mind, let’s jump in.
It sounds obvious, but one of the simplest ways to make your employees feel appreciated (and in turn, motivated) is by celebrating their successes. How you go about this depends on your business’ unique culture.
It could be as simple as congratulating an employee during a shift, or as sophisticated as setting up a formal “employee of the month” program. It’s really up to you, your team, and what you feel comfortable doing. The most important point is that you definitely do something regularly.
Pay Out Bonuses and Spiffs
While the details are different, bonuses and spiffs operate on a similar principle: paying your team for exceptional performance.
Typically, spiffs are used with sales teams and they’re paid out immediately on the successful completion of a sale. For a small business owner, this could get expensive quickly, so it’s common to reserve spiffs to certain products and to cap the amount that you’ll pay out to each salesperson. For example, slower-moving inventory items that you’re trying to clear out are a great candidate for a spiff.
Bonuses, on the other hand, are typically available to all employees regardless of their department. You can set them up however you like, but bonuses typically follow the formula of achieving a certain goal within a specified timeframe. You could pay out monthly, quarterly, or annual bonuses. The bonuses themselves could be a percentage of the employee’s salary or simply a flat fee for an hourly employee.
The overriding theme here is that you’re using a financial reward to encourage hard work and performance.
Foster Friendly Competition
Internal competitions are popular with companies that have a dedicated sales team. Like spiffs and bonuses, these can be as complicated or as simple as you want. Every salesperson can compete individually, or you can group them into teams. Similarly, you could have the contest focus on the sales of one specific item, several items, or everything in your store/restaurant.
The key to successful competition is to keep all parties motivated. The last thing you want is for an employee or team to fall behind and lose their will to continue trying to win. It should go without saying, but at the end of the contest, the winner(s) should receive a reward, typically financial.
Be an Effective Leader
While history has gifted us many examples of great leaders, there’s also no monolithic example of an “effective leader.” Leadership styles differ between managers and business owners. And every team responds differently to various leadership styles. To be an effective leader, the best thing you can do is determine the style that aligns with your personality while also resonating with your team.
As far as motivation is concerned, working under a strong leader is inherently motivating. When you have confidence in your employer, the overall strategy, and the direction of their business, it compels you to work harder. There’s so no reason to spend time daydreaming or looking for another job. With a strong purpose and direction each day, you have only one thing left to do, execute!
Set Your Team Free
No one likes to be told what to do in minute detail each day. It’s demotivating to feel like your manager or employer doesn’t trust you enough to complete basic tasks without their guidance. So if you want to motivate your team, set them free. Stop micromanaging them and instead give them the freedom to complete their tasks how they think is best.
It’s easy to take this too far, though. Freedom doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t train your team or give them any direction at all. It’s not uncommon for retailers to employee high school or college-aged workers. You might be the first job for some of your employees. In these instances, make sure you provide comprehensive training alongside periodic check-ins. This ensures that your standards are met and your employees have the guidance they need to succeed and learn new skills.
Pair your guidance with assurances that you’ll take a lighter hand with management as the employee’s experience increases. This makes it clear that your trust can be earned and with trust comes reward.
Offer Career Growth
If you want your employees to be motivated to come in and work hard each day, you need to make it obvious that a path for growth exists within your business. Cashiers should know that it’s possible to rise to the rank of manager with enough hard work. The same should be true for a food-service restaurant.
Similarly, you will want to make it clear to managers that there’s a path for growth. These are your most experienced and trusted employees. If you don’t make it clear that there’s a path forward it’s likely that these employees will move on to pursue other roles at some point. When that happens you’ll lose valuable experience that can set your business back.
Make Company Culture a Priority
Developing a vibrant company culture should be a priority for all businesses, but for one that’s characterized by as much turnover as retail and foodservice, it’s absolutely essential. Despite what some HR gurus might tell you, company culture is largely a product of your employees. So what can you do when your whole staff might turnover every few months?
You need to go out of your way to create regular events and opportunities to bond. When your employees bond and begin to care about one another as well as your business, they’ll enjoy their work more. The more they enjoy their work, the harder they’ll work. It’s a win-win situation.
Set Clear Goals
Part of offering strong leadership and highlighting a path for growth is setting clear goals for your team. In most businesses, goals are based on performance. For example, it’s common for a sales persona to have a dollar value quota that they need to hit within a certain time period.
Obviously, not every employee is a salesperson, so you may need to get creative with their goals. However, the overriding principle is the same. You want to tie the goal to job performance and set it in a way that encourages effort. It shouldn’t be a slamdunk. Upon hitting the goal, you’ll want to offer a bonus or performance incentive. Typically, money is offered but you could use free meals or merchandise if it works for your business and it motivates your employees.
There you have it, eight straightforward and simple tactics you can use to motivate your employees. You don’t need to start using them all at once. Instead, we recommend trying a few and seeing what works best for your team. Once you’ve had a chance to evaluate the results, you can make changes or stay the course.