Tips to keep staff on their toes

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OK, it’s time for a little honesty. I’m told it’s the best policy, so what better way to start?

We’re not far off a new year – so, just how many of your new year’s resolutions are planned? If the answer is ‘not many’, well, I’m not surprised!

Motivation, for many, is elusive at best. Sure, it comes in spurts, often at unexpected times, but these are all too often short-lived. But take this advice from a business veteran such as myself – this is not a sustainable way to do business.

Think about it for a moment – if you find motivation a toughie and you’re running your own show, what about those drawing a pay cheque from you? How can you keep them motivated?

Motivating staff is the key to a healthy business. And it should be right up there with your new year’s resolutions marked ‘to keep’ as it can help keep the ones you want, and even help you get more out of the non-performers.

A good leader should inspire those around them – that is, inspire them to realise their potential.

Former American president John Quincy Adams said if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are a leader.

More simply, Mark Twain wrote: “really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great”.

Knowing how to motivate people is important. It doesn't matter how much you ask your staff to pull their socks up, if they're not motivated, they won't do it.

Now, I'm not going to say that motivating people is an easy job. It's tough and you have to keep at it constantly. But successful business owners always acknowledge the role that good people play in their operations.

So, how can you motivate those in your business to be the best they can be?

The answer is simple – practice makes perfect.

Motivational great Zig Ziglar said, “people often says that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

And American author Jim Rohn wrote, “motivation is what gets you started; habit is what keeps you going”.

Here are some simple things you can do to keep your employees on their toes – it’s good for them because they can feel personally satisfied when they give their best (and they get rewarded) and, in turn, top performers produce better results for your business.

First up, talk to your staff.

Ask simple questions like, 'how are you?’ It doesn't take much to be nice to people.

Second, say 'thank you'.

It's funny, but from my experience as an employer, there are so many times when a pay rise or a reward is not seen as important as the boss saying 'thank you' for a job well done.

I'm not saying people don't like money and tangible rewards like a weekend away or a dinner for two. What I'm saying is that these tangible rewards aren’t always expected – but people do like to hear a 'thank you' for a job well done.

The person who has done the job will be looking for praise and if you don't give it to them they'll start to look for it elsewhere!

Third, learn to delegate.

As your business grows and you take on more people, you will have to delegate some jobs that you could like or be attached to.

But you have to learn to let go. The best thing is when your staff member does a job previously done by you either equally as well or even better!

Always remember to make a person feel important when they achieve things in your business.

Fourth, give them room to grow.

If you want to keep staff, you are going to have to offer them opportunities to develop their skills.

Some small businesses worry that if they train people they’ll leave and the business has lost money. Yes, that's true to a certain extent, but if you don't train them and they stay, they could be under-skilled in their jobs and this will impact on your business.

Next, listen to learn.

Your employees could have valuable ideas that could contribute to innovations in your organisation that could lead to bottom line improvements.

Ask for input when decisions are being made.

And be sure to reward them if one of their innovative ideas has benefits in your business!

Before I sign off, you may have noticed a lot of quotes from great people in this article. This is a simple way to stay motivated: regularly read up on things that inspire you to keep them top of mind – my articles included!

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