Being the owner and manager of a small business is a tremendous undertaking. It involves balancing a budget and leading a marketing campaign, raising capital and designing new products. Unlike at major corporations, where a different person is assignment to different specialties, a small business manager usually needs to be a developer, advertiser, fund-raiser, consultant, and hiring manager all at once.
At the same time, a manager also needs to be an effective leader for the employees that he hires. Considering the relative importance of each hire and the many aforementioned tasks that likely fall on the manager’s plate, identifying a successful motivation approach is even more important for small businesses than it is for large ones. When done correctly, a manager can boost productivity by making his employees care more about the company and about their work. Conversely, when left overlooked or underemphasized, a poor motivation strategy can translate into unhappy workers and pronounced business inefficiencies.
Of course, some managers can be effective motivators simply by virtue of their personalities. In the way they carry themselves and communicate with employees, these managers can attain an immediate cult of respect and a shared sense of vision – traits both of which can spur employees to do better work. Such charisma among managers is hard to teach, but those lacking in this regard should still consider pursuing management and leadership courses. Successful courses can have a marked impact on the way a manager runs his small business.
But for those small business owners or managers who have no strong abilities or severe deficiencies as far as charisma is concerned, what concerted steps can be taken to boost employee motivation? Here are a few suggestions:
A strong workplace culture breeds an attitude where employees work for a cause greater than themselves. This culture can be instilled by keeping workers appraised of the big picture, by providing appealing benefits, and by encouraging office socialization outside of normal work hours.
Offer positive incentives
Generally speaking, there are two main ways to incentivize people: by being positive (and by encouraging employees to work towards a goal) or by being negative (and either explicitly or implicitly make employees fearful about their performance). Most managers use some combination of these two methods, an approach that ultimately causes the positives and the negatives to cancel each other out in the worker’s mind. It is therefore important that only one method – ideally a positive one – is pursued.
Encourage team work
Studies have shown that people work better when they work together, largely because they feel their task less tedious and don’t want to let down their co-workers. When possible, then, teamwork is great to promote as a subtle means of boosting motivation.
Search out good hiring fits
No matter how hard one tries, a manager may never succeed in motivating certain employees. On the other hand, some workers may be so self-motivating that they don’t need any prodding from above. This all goes to show that motivation is strongly tied to personality. If a small business seeks the most motivated workforce possible, it should look for the trait during the hiring process.
These are just a few concerted steps that managers can take when trying to motivate their employees. While motivation is an intrinsic value that usually cannot be forced, managers that find ways to cultivate and encourage it stand to help their small business benefit tremendously as a result.
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