In order to motivate your employees, you need to first be motivated yourself. You need to have a firm understanding of where you want the job to go, be aggressive about doing it, and excited about taking on the challenge. Then you must communicate these feelings to your employees. Your job is to lift your employees out of mediocrity and make them achievers.

Motivation is extremely important. Nonmotivated employees can have several negative effects on your business. These include friction on the job, substandard output in quality, a high turnover of employees, absenteeism, tardiness, and many of the disciplinary problems that you wish to avoid. It is a fact that motivated employees are the most productive and will produce to their maximum abilities.

To bring about a positive change in behavior, management needs to be aware of and deal with the different motives employees have for performing their jobs. This is the most critical ingredient to a successful motivation formula. Managers should provide the availability for achievement, manipulate the expectancy for success, and take into consideration the incentives for action, which differ from individual to individual.

Recognize that there are dangers in the use of external pressure to perform. Excessive incitement to pressure often hampers the performance level. The process of motivation is not concluded with any one particular performance, but rather is constantly reassessed as new information is obtained through practice and continued work. Results have to be placed in perspective so that the individual realistically evaluates successes and failures.

Carefully analyze the performance of individuals and provide each with attainable personal goals. Concentrate on the specific elements of an individualís performance and reward on the basis of achieving personal goal increases. This will keep morale high. Stress the attainment of small goals. Employees can then build on their accomplishments. Keep written documentation to help identify problems that may go unnoticed, as well as achievements and improvements. Look for gradual gains. Know your individual employees. What motivates one specific individual may have no effect on another. Any motivational strategy you use should have realistic and attainable goals the whole organization can strive for.

Practice and teach self-reinforcement. There are two steps to this process. Nurture an understanding in your employees of their own physical, technical and mental attributes. In other words, make them aware of the strengths and weaknesses in their abilities. Establish two-way communication. Instead of telling employees what they did wrong and telling them to correct it, ask them what they thought they did wrong, and what they would do to correct it next time.

In addition to making individuals aware of different aspects of their performance, it enables them to make objective evaluations of their own performance. Two-way communication also provides for better and more specific feedback, which enables individuals to improve more quickly.

Motivating individuals is not a simple task. Itís very difficult and requires significant skill to execute fairly. If youíre not sincere, others will sense it. If you lack genuine care for others, it will be uncovered. If youíre manipulative, youíll anger others. Some people can coach, some can lead, and yet others (a few others) can do both. Know your own limits.

The operation of a business is a team task, so too should management be. If youíre not a good motivator, delegate the task to others. The ability to motivate others is important. Words are cheaper than dollars. You cannot continually throw dollars at people hoping to properly motivate them and expect any to remain for yourself.

NOTE: For other closely related topics, be sure to review the sections on Goal Setting (#17) and Leadership (#20) in this series of articles on Business Management.

Mike Holtís Comment: This newsletter was extracted from my Business Management and Management Skillsí Workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we encourage your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. Please respond to

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