How to Motivate Employees – The Complete Guide

Whether you oversee a business, a project or a specific department your goal should always be growth. But, don’t forget that growth only has market value when it is consistent.

Growth is a marathon, and just like any marathonist who prepares themselves both mentally and physically, you need to be in possession of the right tools for the long run. Even though marathon runners win titles alone, the team supporting them is arguably one of the most decisive aspects for their winnings.  Within business the same happens, your employees are your team and they are the most important and decisive element on how your business is going to perform in the future.

It is essential that you understand what you need to do to keep your employees engaged and focused on the common goal. The secret to motivating employees is about knowing your team individuals and customizing the way you recognize and motivate them according to their specific preferences.

You will always need to spend at least as much time building an engaging ecosystem and improving your employee experience as you do hiring new people and motivating your staff.

  1. Stop Micromanaging

Even though people often look at you as you were Superman, it does not mean you have superpowers. Being a manager, and at the same time, an employee is something that only Clark Kent could dream of. Nonetheless, many are the managers who try to do that and end up being neither a good manager nor a good employee.

Alysa Gregory wrote a pretty insightful post on how you can effectively address this common problem with specific techniques. The problem with micromanagement is that it will make your employees too much dependent on you for direction and therefore less likely to learn, think and produce quality outcomes for themselves. Provide direction and give assistance when required but also provide freedom for employees to do things their own way and surprise you.

Salvador is a Portuguese 25 years old person that has been self-motivated to support young entrepreneurs since university. He’s helped several young entrepreneurs shaping up their business models through a youth entrepreneurship organization named Bring Entrepreneurs Together.

Now, he’s a young entrepreneur himself, specifically the CEO of Tap My Back – a software that supports companies adapting to the way millennials communicate, through instant public work appreciation and continuous feedback. Before joining Tap My Back, he did a Master’s degreeon Business Strategy at Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics.

Stop Micromanaging

  1. Give ownership

Over time workers can develop what’s called tunnel vision making them to start focusing only about their own duties and deadlines. Rather than working for the company goals, they work towards meeting their role minimum requirements.

A Forbes article recently explores the advantages in leveraging something they defined as “psychological ownership” – the extent to which an employee feels as though their organization or their job is “theirs” (i.e., “this is MY company!”) to the point that the company becomes an important part of an employee’s self-identity.

To foster this mentality across your team you should guarantee that each collaborator gets to understand how his role impacts directly the final customer as well as his colleagues.

Make sure your team feels responsible for what the customer is buying 

  1. Push employees out of the comfort zone

Even though some managers feel their staff does little further from what it is required of them, the fact is that by nature most people do get bored of being asked to do a specific task repeatedly. Besides, this demand makes people to automatize the work they do lowering the probability of contributing with out-of-scope work.

A key ingredient to make people step out of the comfort zone relies in leadership. It starts with you. Step out of your comfort zone and describe the process to your staff as well as the reasons why. Your behavior will soon resonate. Then, be ready to identify barriers and understand what motivates the individuals to guide your employee’s breakthroughs.

Staying within your comfort zone is a good way to prepare for today, but it’s a terrible way to prepare for tommorow –

David Peterson, Director, Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google –

  1. Share information constantly

When you are growing fast, assumptions and goals change in the same pace. As a business leader, you have a clearer perspective on the bigger picture than your employees do.

Spreading the intel gets everyone on the same layer as you are and at the same time strengthens the feeling among workers that they are an important part of the organization. Nowadays, you can easily share information through several different ways.

  1. Create an environment focused on the top performers

All the efforts you put into improving your team working conditions should always be focused in satisfying the top performing employees. Eitan Sharir develops a thorough analysis on the impact a team build upon an high-performance culture may generate.

Your mission is to understand the best way to motivate your most talented employees to improve their production rate. Get to know what are the roadblocks they’re hitting and make sure you clear them so that they have no barriers to get the most important work done. 

Create an environment focused on the top performers

  1. Use a simple employee recognition tool

Recent studies indicate that employees feel recognition more fulfilling than any money rewards or gifts. By recognition, I mean any type of word or behavior that indicates employees they have done a pretty good job at something or that they need to improve their work at something else.

Even though almost everyone already get this point, managers struggle to deliver constant recognition/feedback when there’s no system implemented that eases the process. Tap my Back tackles most of these challenges. It is a tool designed to facilitate both upwards and downwards recognition in a fun and frictionless way. Either for remote or local team’s recognition may be made publicly or privately to any specific worker.

A plus of using such a tool, is the fact that it provides team leaders with analytics and insights on the recognition given throughout the organization allowing them to become better and more informed managers.

  1. Fire underperformers

Even though it may seem a paradox in terms of team motivation, firing underperformers works well on motivating your best employees. When other employees see these individuals getting away with underperformance, then they feel it’s ok within the company culture to perform at lower levels. Therefore, firing—if you explain to your team why people were fired—can motivate employees to improve daily.

  1. Encourage Innovation and Creativity

As a manager, you must realize that the clear majority of innovations come from the people who are manufacturing your products, designing your services or the ones who are interacting with customers.

Fostering creativity across your team will not only bolster employee motivation but also helps creating a more flexible and comfortable working environment where creativity is much welcome.

Disruption either in terms of products, markets or processes is the common ground of every growing company

  1. Invest in staff learning opportunities

People who get the chance to grow their skills and expertise take more pride in their jobs, you should encourage employees in your organization to gain new skills. However, providing trainings and learning programs is not enough. You must ensure that employees are able to apply the knowledge gained to accomplish their work and further benefit their career utility.

You can do this in many ways, such as providing on-the-job training and other opportunities to teach your employees new skills.

  1. Do not hire Clones

It often happens that new employees dress, sound and think the same way as the one who recruited them. The last thing any entrepreneur should try is to recruit a bunch of “mini-me’s”. Rather try surrounding yourself with experts who excel in different areas and bring unique perspectives. It will create a much more exciting environment for everyone on your company.

This article was originally published on Tap My Back. To download the free guide on Best Practices to Engage Employees, please click here.

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Say Yes to Gamification

Gamification is proving to be an effective tactic to help motivate employees and increase engagement. A dedicated workforce can be your greatest asset and — whether it’s because of lower employee turnover or increased productivity. That’s why employers are often looking for innovative ways to improve their workplace culture, and some are even adding fun gaming elements to help stimulate their employees.

Think about our culture in general—we wear fitness trackers to motivate ourselves to move more. Many of us jumped on the “Pokemon Go” Craze this past year. We love logging on and tracking all sorts of progress on a digital screen to enjoy small, personal victories. So why shouldn’t the workplace capitalize on that mindset?

Who is using gamification? Companies like Nike, Codecademy, Duolingo, Mint Money Manager, and Starbucks, among others. Many more reputable organizations will implement it in 2017. Will yours be next? Here’s a look at why companies are looking to take their staffs to the next level with solutions that utilize gaming elements.

It gives employees a chance to “level up.” If there’s one thing that resonates with today’s generation of workers, it’s getting feedback and personalized attention about their contributions. A gamification app does this in real-time by tracking performance, sometimes awarding badges or giving employees pings and reminders when they’re close to a goal.

It helps them earn a high score. In this case, the “score” is the success of the company as a whole. Adding a gaming element to departmental projects can help workers understand how and why their contributions add up and in what ways they are impacting the team. Getting on board with gamification can help facilitate team-building by rewarding points for collaboration and encouraging workers to communicate new ideas. When implemented within an employee training programs, games can also motivate your teams to keep their skills updated.

It taps into our competitive nature. This is where companies need to tread lightly since the last thing you want is to turn a gaming application into a cutthroat war between staffers. However, friendly competition with fun rewards (like a free lunch for the highest performing team) or even acknowledging personal records, like someone’s best sales month, can boost confidence and build camaraderie.

It appeals to the digital generation. Millennials are all about being in control of their career destinies and understanding the outcomes of their efforts. Gamification can offer more of a personalized work experience for them. One example, as HRCloud points out, is Deloitte’s “Mass Career Customization” program, which allows employees to pick and choose their work preferences. Another company, Valve, uses a gaming platform to let employees select the projects on which they want to work. For younger workers, gamification provides the instant gratification they so crave but is often missing in a more traditional corporate structure.

It helps avoid “game over” scenarios. Gamification helps generate insights that HR departments can use to get inside the heads of their workforce. In other words, it’s a form of workforce intelligence gathering, in which employee performance is monitored so that potential pitfalls can be red-flagged and exceptional work doesn’t go unnoticed. When workers feel like their company is doing all it can to support their career growth, they are more likely to stay put.

It helps your employer brand. Not only can gamification help your teams internally, but it can also encourage satisfied staffers to become brand ambassadors. This can help with recruiting efforts and serves to demonstrate that your company culture is hip and modern—and that it puts employees first.

Gamification may not solve every workplace challenge, but it can give employees something new to be excited about. And only good things happen when your team is engaged and striving for a higher success score.

A version of this was first posted on

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