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5 proven ways to motivate your staff without spending money

Motivating staff isn’t a matter of money. It’s a matter of management, says business and leadership coach Monica Wofford of Contagious Companies in Orlando, FL.

Here she lists five good motivators within reach of any manager, regardless of the payroll budget.

Fit the person to the job

Find out what each staffer’s skills and interests are and align those elements with the job.

It’s difficult for people to come in day after day and face work “that doesn’t interest them and doesn’t utilize their skills and talents,” Wofford says. They need some assignments that are exciting.

Absent that, she says, “they check out of the workplace but still collect a paycheck.”

The best way to find out what people’s interests are, is simply to ask “What do you enjoy doing?” and “What would you like to do?” and “What’s your favorite/least favorite thing to do?”

There’s no need to change anybody’s job. Just hand out the assignments to fit the people who get them.

We don’t care if you said so

Gone is the “old-school because-I-said-so” approach to management, Wofford explains. People no longer accept that, particularly people in their early 30s.

Those are the Generation Y staffers, or the Millennials, and they make up a great percentage of today’s employees. They’ve grown up with all the information they want right at their fingertips. They question directives. They expect reasons.

They’re most motivated when the manager engages them “in some kind of collaborative leadership,” Wofford says. For example, when there’s a project to be done that involves several staffers, ask them what parts of the work they would most enjoy and then let them take charge of those areas.

At the same time make it clear that while you cherish input, you’ll still have the final say.

Take a top down approach

Focus on the people who do well, not on the poor performers. There’s nothing to be gained from putting all the manager’s time and effort into “the ones who are doing it wrong,” Wofford says.

The traditional approach to management has been to expend the greatest effort helping the bottom staffers correct mistakes and improve in their jobs.

And while that may be noble, she says, “it’s a great way to de-motivate the ones who are doing well.” They see that the way to get attention is to foul things up. There’s no reward for quality work.

Neither does it do much for the poor performers. Constantly helping people out destroys any incentive to improve. After all, the manager accepts poor work and will correct everybody’s mistakes.

Focus on the top performers. Give them extra training. Ask for their opinions on best practices. “And make a big deal about what they are doing well so the whole team sees it,” she says.

Even self confidence counts

The manager’s own self confidence also makes a difference in motivation, Wofford notes.

A manager needs the confidence to let the top performers find better ways to do their jobs.

Many bosses are afraid to hire people smarter than they are for fear those people will take over their authority. And for the same reason, many a boss “blatantly disregards” top performance, she says, particularly when the work is something the boss couldn’t do.

But, Wofford points out, the best managers are the ones who surround themselves with smart, capable people “and give them room to prove themselves.”

They are the managers “who can check their frailties at the door,” she says, and give credit to the people who do outstanding work.

Four types of staffers

Finally, a good manager has to recognize that people are different, and so are the things they want from their jobs. Those are the things that motivate them to do well.

In general, Wofford says, employees fall into four categories.

First are the commanders. They want to see action, results, and efficiency. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments, and they get motivated when they have a sense of control over what they do.

Next are the organizers. They don’t want overall recognition; they want recognition for specific accomplishments. They like to work with details, logic, and facts.

Third are the relaters. These are amiable employees. They perform best when they have security, consistency, direction, and reassurance. If they get that from the manager, Wofford says, “they’ll be as loyal as the day is long” and they’ll do good work.

Last are the entertainers. What they want in a job is friendship and popularity and the ability to express themselves. And what they don’t want is control from the boss and work that requires detail.









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