Helping Small Business Think Big

My favorite EASY way to motivate my workforce

Just read another article at about “How to destroy employee motivation”.  It reminded me about some of the resistance I have gotten from Managers who think efforts to motivate are a waste of their time.

In my journey of consulting with business managers or owners about employee management (and particularly employee motivation) I often run into many objections.  Frequently the objection to trying to motivate employees is “sounds like a lot of extra work”.  And yes, it can be sometimes.  But there is no more important job for a manager than building and nurturing a motivated work force.  The larger the company, the more important that becomes so it is time well spent.

One of my best responses to those managers who seem less inclined to do more work is to tell them there is something they can do that is very effective and yet requires them to do virtually nothing.  They like the sound of that so I continue … to tell them to listen better!!   That is it.  Be a better listener.  Yes, you have a lot on your mind and your instinct is to cut to the chase.  But think in terms of 3 minute blocks here.  Give someone your undivided attention for three minutes.  It won’t kill you.  Really listen.  When employees think you are truly listening to them and thinking about what they are saying, they feel more trusted, valued and motivated to keep their heads in the game.  Hard to do when an entry level employee wants to share their new idea with you?  Of course.  But it can either be a great teaching moment opportunity when you listen first and then summarize the good parts of their idea and identify the weak points (because you’ve probably been down that road before) or it can be an eye-opener when someone fresh looks at old problems from a new angle.  You never know where the next great idea might be coming from.

Oh and one other tip I like to use.  When you are listening and don’t really feel in the mood, imagine instead that you are listening to the World’s Foremost Expert on the topic.  For example, if Thomas Edison stopped by and wanted to tell you about electricity, wouldn’t you hang on his every word?  Imagine your employee is an expert in his own way and give him the same courtesy of truly listening.  It’s not hard work but it makes your people feel very good about the company and the boss they work for.  And if you can have that effect by DOING NOTHING, then think how well you can do when you actually put some muscle into your effort!