2/11/14

Motivating Your Employees - Make People Feel Important

As I have mentioned in my previous article, motivating people is a difficult job for a manager, especially when you have only non-financial means available and your team is made up of various types of characters. Money is a good motivator but only for a while and only for lower type of positions. As you go higher, it no longer works, no matter how much money you decide to make available. That's when you need to think of other motivators. Making people feel important is one of them. It works for all categories of team members - juniors and seniors alike.

Making people feel important doesn't necessarily mean promoting them. And you need to remember that not everybody wants to be manager. For some it may be a huge pain in the back. Also, promoting the wrong people may lead to team disaster. Making people feel important may be sometimes much easier than you think. Here's what you can do:

  • Listen to people - this shows you care - listen to their problems, to their suggestions, even if you can't apply or solve everything at least give people a part of your time to show that you appreciate their effort in the team;
  • Ask for help - this makes people feel useful - delegate some of your tasks - it will help them and you equally;
  • Be polite - no matter how angry or frustrated you are. Never forget "Please" and "Thank you";
  • Reward people - don't take measures only when something is wrong to solve a problem - also act when people have done something positive;
  • Offer feedback - good or bad - this shows that you are following your team members in their actions, that you offer them part of your time, that you praise them when good things happen and that you care about their improvement when bad things do;
  • Encourage people;
  • Offer them some decision freedom - no matter how small, allow them to make some choices, to implement some of their ideas;
  • Show them you care about their professional and personal improvement - send them to trainings, organize team buildings, delegate (I've already said that, but it needs to be repeated here too), talk about what they want to do and help them, give them challenging tasks and objectives;
  • Show compassion when they have personal problems;
  • Allow them to have a life - let them go home on time to be with their families, encourage them to be efficient on the job in order not to spend the entire day at work, encourage them not to take work at home unless absolutely necessary;
  • Smile, be nice and honest;
  • Organize personal meetings with each of them to allow them to offer your their feedback;
  • Roll up your sleeves - don't run when the team has a big project to finish and tight deadlines- work near them doing sometimes tasks that are below your status - this will show them you care about them and about the team and you don't consider yourself too good and too high on the ladder to do entry level tasks;
What ideas do you have to make people in your team feel important?

Take care,
Geo

2/4/14

Motivating Your Employees - Active Listening

Listen!
Non-financial motivation of your team when you are the manager is a tricky business. It's difficult and challenging, but also fun and rewarding. Since financial means to motivate people are most of the times not available and even if they were, it's a proven fact that as you go higher on the ladder people are no longer motivated by money, the question is for you as a manager - what do you do to keep your team together, functioning at highest standards? Well, one idea would be to do "active listening".

What is active listening?
It's that moment in a conversation when not only you  stop talking, but really listen to the other, show by various means that you are listening and don't offer any personal opinions on the matter. Active listening is listening, understanding and showing that you have understood. This doesn't mean that you agree, you just show you understand.

How is it useful?
It makes the person you are talking to feel important. And making people feel important is another very strong non-financial motivator. It builds a stronger relationship between individuals who know each other better (because they listen to each other's opinions) and who trust each other.

How do you do it?
There are certain techniques by which you show that you are listening actively:

  • Paraphrasing - to repeat parts of what the other has told you, but in your own words;
  • Repeating - to repeat the last words the other has mentioned in the form of a question - to ask if you have understood correctly what he/she said;
  • Summarizing - to repeat the other's ideas in a shorter version and in your own words;
  • Asking questions - asking for additional details either through closed questions (Yes/No) or open questions (that ask for more information and keep the conversation going);
  • Verbal signs: Uh - uh, Yeah, I see, OK, Of course, Oh;
  • Non-verbal signs - tilting your head, visual contact, body language (staying with your body towards the speaker), raising your eyebrows to show interest;


Can you learn how to do it? Can you practice it somehow?
Of course. Not everybody is good at that. Some even have great difficulties listening actively. There are aggressive people that need to have a say in everything, that interrupt you when speaking, that keep asking questions even if you haven't finished your idea. Here's an idea of what I did with my team - I learned this during a course and applied it with the ladies:

  1. Once a week we had our department meeting - at the end of the meeting we had our "active listening" exercise;
  2. One of the ladies was the speaker, one was listening actively and the other was evaluating the listener;
  3. We would pick a theme - preferably something controversial like death penalty, drugs, abortion, divorce;
  4. The speaker had 10 minutes to speak about the theme, the listener to actively listen (this involved not offering any personal opinion whatsoever) and the evaluator to determine whether the listener did indeed listen actively or not, how many of the techniques she used and what else could have been improved in the process;
  5. They would switch places three times - this way each of them got to be the listener.
The exercise was useful as they got to know each other better, to respect their opinions and after a while they would use what they learned in everyday duties, not only during the exercise.


What are your thoughts on the matter? Are you a good active listener? Do you know any people who don't know how to listen and could use this exercise?

Take care,
Geo