Regardless of the business climate, retaining motivated employees that are a part of your ‘A’ or ‘B’ team is essential in every business. It can be challenging and you may feel overwhelmed by this responsibility, but being passive and not aggressive about your employees will hurt you in turnover that you don’t want. It is the responsibility of management to keep the business growing and moving forward by ensuring you keep your primary team focused and motivated. Of course, we are speaking about the team members you want to keep around – while ‘C’ team members are necessary, the amount of effort keeping them motivated must be compared to the time you need to keep your key team in place. Losing one ‘A’ team member is worse than losing multiple individuals in the lower tiers. Here are a seven strategies for accomplishing this goal of retaining key team members:
1. Create a Motivated Culture
The first step toward motivated employees is to create an encouraging environment for the behaviors you are trying to foster and recognizing them when they happen. By relishing in success and taking blame for failure, you can show your team that you care about them and will fight for them. By embracing the motivated environment within your corporate culture, not only will you have great front-line employees but you will create a whole new generation of future company leaders. This leads you one step toward creating a company that can last a very long time.
2. Be Transparent
It sure seems obvious but many managers don’t realize that any decent employee wants to feel like a member of the team. It is essential that management communicate the overall goals of a project or the requirements of a job so that everybody is on the same page when it comes to results. Accomplishing this relatively simple task makes it possible for team members to make good decisions when confronted with a choice and also allows them to measure themselves against a less than subjective yardstick.
Accomplishing this goal requires time, energy and patience. Employees must be informed of decisions arrived at management meetings, updated about new policies and, most importantly, apprised of any new company developments that will change how the employees are evaluated and compensated. In this vein, particularly, it is necessary for managers to meet face-to face with any affected employees to explain what the changes mean.
3. Bring In the Boss
As they say, “nothing succeeds like success.” An appearance by the “Big Boss” can mean the difference between a lukewarm response to a new initiative and a fully engaged team. It is a highly motivating factor if your team sees that the highest levels of the organization are firmly invested in the success of a new initiative. Seriously, the mere fact that the CEO or even the regional manager is taking a personal, hands-on interest in a project will reap many benefits.
It is important, however, that this interest is not merely a memo or a pre-recorded “Message from the President.” An engaged – and knowledgeable presence is necessary to have the most effect on project and team success.
4. Provide Opportunity
Opportunity in an organization cannot be only limited to management. Instead, front-line workers and lower management must also see their engagement in and support for these projects. Management can reward them with bonuses, recognition and career advancement. It is the last factor that can be most important as the most capable employees will look here for their motivation. In fact, this latest generation of workers almost expects to move up quickly!
Some ways to facilitate this is to include lower level employees in senior level meetings, as members of cross-functional committees and as true arbiters of the success of a project. These functions may manifest themselves as a member of a committee but they are still powerful motivators for keeping the best people involved. From these roles, they can ‘see’ a path to more responsibility and more opportunity.
5. Address Employee Concerns
One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch especially if that ‘bad apple’ has a legitimate grievance. It never makes sense for a manager to dismiss an issue that appears inconsequential to himself, he should look into all issues and include HR when possible. Ignoring facts on the ground and dismissing concerns outright could result in dire consequences for all within the company. In fact, managers are in their positions to handle just such eventualities – be prepared and do not ignore issues for so long that they become ‘big issues’.
One way to understand what is happening in a company is the simple “suggestion box” which can provide a way for employees to file a grievance without being identified. While this is one way, the much better way is regular meetings where team members are encouraged to participate. In addition, these meetings cannot just pay lip service to the complaints but must actively seek to redress the concerns.
6. Reward Success
This factor is where “the rubber meets the road.” I understand that there are all sorts of studies that purport to show how various types of employees respond to various types of rewards. This fact is all well and good when the employee is highly compensated and really doesn’t need any more money but it is of dubious merit when the employee is working for minimum wage and would rather have a better salary than a trophy. Bottom line, reward success in the most appropriate manner possible.
With that said, it is not enough to merely acknowledge accomplishment. A company must come across with a real honest way of showing appreciation. Whether it is a raise, a bonus and even just acknowledgement, it is imperative to “feed the need” of the employee.
7. Always Listen
In many ways, this is the most important aspect of employee motivation as it is the only way that you, as the manager, will know if you are messing up – and, don’t kid yourself, this is the essence of motivating employees. They must know that you give a damn. Think about it. For your company to be successful, YOU don’t really need to be happy, your employees DO.
In closing, individuals have their needs, companies have their needs, and managers have their needs, but the best way to make sure companies and managers have their needs met is for the individuals on your team to feel they are accomplishing something more than their daily tasks. They want to be part of something bigger. Recently, I read a story about 2 brick layers working outside – when asked what they were doing they each responded much differently. The first brick layer simply stated – I am laying out bricks and ensuring they are level so I can make this wall. However, the second brick layer, knowing the reason behind his work said, ‘I am building a cathedral’. Make sure all your employees feel like that second worker.
For more information on employee motivation you might be interested in, Employee Motivation: The Key to a Successful Workplace