13 Tips to be a Motivational Leader

Feeling valued and that your work contributions make a difference are two key factors in job satisfaction. What can we do to help colleagues feel motivated about their work? With workforce an issue around the globe and employers struggling to engage star employees, here are 13 tips to be a motivational leader:

  1. Create a fair and supportive environment.
    • Do you provide the tools and resources employees need to succeed?
    • If people are failing or if there is turnover, the first place to look is at the supervisor in charge. Good supervisors cultivate good, highly efficient employees, but the reverse is true as well. People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses! Watch turnover and connect the dots!
  2. Invest in your human resources!
    • Provide development opportunities.
      • Career training – internal and external
      • Support their attendance at conferences and other learning/networking opportunities
    • Work on health and wellness as a corporate initiative, invest in activities for healthy living (healthy employees are more productive and lower insurance premiums!), some examples:
      • Gym memberships
      • Gift cards for steps using Fitbit® or other measurement tools
      • You pick one!
  3. Reward them.
    • SAY “THANK YOU” or “GOOD JOB” FOR A JOB WELL DONE
    • After a vigorous project or particularly stressful time, offer some time off.
    • Gift cards — $5.00 to Starbucks goes a long way.
    • Present them with a certificate of thanks.
  4. Coach them for improvement.
    • When performance improvement is required, be sure to communicate that PROMPTLY. DO NOT wait for the annual performance review and use it as a area of improvement. A performance review should be considered a recap of information already communicated and a review of the results. A good leader does not blindside an employee with a never-before-communicated laundry list of complaints at their annual review.
    • Seek to counsel and to guide. Do not seek a “gotcha” moment! Value your team members. They are your most important investment.
  5. Make every effort to avoid shaming or embarrassing an employee when a difficult conversation is necessary.
    • Speak to them privately about performance related issues. They are people with feelings. Remember, most people want to do a good job and be considered a good performer.
  6. Strive for equal treatment of all employees.
    • Be careful to follow the same process in conversations and reviews with all employees.
      • Singling out an employee for special treatment, good or bad, sends a signal to other employees.
    • Be fair.
      • If you have a personality conflict with someone, dig deep into why that is occurring and work on yourself before you blame the other person. As Steven Covey says, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
  7. Avoid the perception of favoritism by being observant and perceptive of how your words and actions are being interpreted.
  8. Establish a culture of respect.
    • Treat people with dignity and respect.
    • Listen and work as a team to resolve issues. Do not jump to a conclusion after hearing one side of an argument.
  9. Communicate clearly and frequently expectations and how you measure success.
    • Do your employees clearly understand your expectations?
      • Are expectations written down?
        • Take responsibility when there is miscommunication particularly regarding job duties and expectations. Start with:
          • Is there a job description and if so, is it up to date?
          • Do employees understand the organizational Mission and Values?
  10. Provide annual reviews and regular feedback in-between reviews so employees know where they stand.
  11. Show up and be present.
    • Don’t be invisible. Let people see you.
    • Smile and be positive.
    • Ask about them, their weekend, whatever you know interests them.
  12. Make it personal.
    • What do you know about the people who report to you?
    • How do you recognize milestones and accomplishments?
    • Do you know anything that is important to that employee aside from work?
    • Is the employee in need of support due to a difficult life experience?
  13. Strive to create meaningful work.
    • Is the assigned work fulfilling – in any way? If not, what can you do to improve the situation?
      • Ask the employees – Communicate!
        • What improvements could make their job more rewarding?
        • What about their job do they like and do not like?
      • Work with employees to provide opportunities to do what they like and to improve their job if it is reasonable.

According to the June 13, 2017 Gallup Chairman’s Blog, 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. A separate Gallup Poll reveals that 70% of employee motivation originates with the employee’s manager. Imagine if employees were motivated and engaged because of their manager? According to Gallup, motivated employees are 31% more productive which results in an increase in sales of 37 percent. Additionally, motivated employees are 87% less likely to quit than their demotivated counterparts. Turnover is one organizational expense that can be limited via support and training by skilled motivational leaders.

In short, your leadership style has an impact on your organizational culture and environment. Take the time to better understand yourself so you can better support your teammates. Learning about yourself can be eye opening and life changing; and the risk is worth the reward.  After all, it does take heat and pressure to create a diamond!

Kyle White is an Extension Educator, Medina County & Western Reserve EERA.

2 thoughts on “13 Tips to be a Motivational Leader

  1. This is great material, Kyle! Thanks for the tips. I especially like #13 about creating meaningful work and communicating. Excellent article!

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