Monday, December 3, 2012

10 Ways to Motivate Your Employees

As business owners, we're always told to look at our balance sheets and profit and loss statements, because that's where we can determine the success of our business and discover our problems. Yet nowhere on either of those sheets do we list employees. Where would you put them? Under assets, or liabilities? Or both? The most challenging part of running a business is finding and keeping good employees. We can't do it without them, as we haven't found a way to clone ourselves — at least not yet.

I love the HVAC business, and I love helping my employees succeed in this business.

Yet it seems that finding and keeping good employees is one of the toughest things business owners face today. As hard as I work at it, I still find it challenging. However, it's also one of the things I first notice about highly successful owners: no matter what their company's size, they spend the time and energy necessary to build a good team.

How do we go about building a good team? First, we need to find people who want to succeed. Then, we need to figure out ways to help them succeed. It's an ongoing process that I strongly believe is all about motivation. Even highly skilled and capable people can lose their motivation and become unproductive. What we, as owners and managers, need to do is figure out how to keep them motivated. We need to take some of the responsibility and not always put the blame on the employees. It's an equal partnership between employee and employer

What Motivates Us?

I took a psychology class a few years ago. It was a study of the major theories of human motivation. While that may sound boring and complicated, it's actually very simple and it makes sense.

Probably the most well known approach to motivation is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory. Maslow felt you needed to satisfy human needs in different levels in order to motivate people to higher levels. According to Maslow, people have five levels of needs. They start with the basic needs that are biological and physiological. The second level is the safety and security needs. The third is the need to belong or social needs. Finally, the last two levels consist of the highest motivational needs: self esteem and self fulfillment.

To put it in simple business terms, the first thing you have to do is make sure your employees are getting paid well so they can buy food and pay for a home. Then, you need to make sure they feel safe on the job, and they have a sense of job security. Next, you need to surround them with a pleasant place to work, good co-workers, and be a fair boss. You must let them know their personal lives matter. Then if you've satisfied those basic needs and want to more highly motivate them, you'll do it by giving them recognition, training, and opportunities for advancement. At this point they need to feel good about themselves.

Ask Your Employees What's Important to Them