Employees are the single greatest expense that most companies have, but they can be a company’s greatest asset if they are managed correctly. Tons of seminars and books are devoted to talking about how pep talks and incentives can help employees to become more motivated and contribute ideas freely. However, pep talks and incentives will not work for every employee and will not help you with managing employees that are already motivated but have outlandish ideas.

1. Get Out of Employees’ Way

One of the biggest motivation killers is micromanagement. No one wants to have someone looking over their shoulder and gauging their every move, so micromanaging may impinge on an employees’ creativity and put a damper on their motivation. Giving employees a little freedom to do things their own way may have an incredibly liberating effect.

2. Keep the Focus on the Goals

Sometimes the present moment and the drivers for a project will cloud an employee’s judgment about the best course of action. These pressing needs may also burden an employee and take up their attention and energy. Reminding employees of the ultimate goals can help them to see that an idea is not going to work to achieve the ultimate goals – and may also serve to remind them that the issues of the present will pass.

3. Watch Out for Your Biases

Everyone has a unique perspective with different values and motivations, so it can be tough to see when your own biases are clouding your judgment. In some cases, an employee’s ideas may be perfectly plausible, but the whole thought process and journey to reach the goal is so different from the way you think that it is tough to see how it will work. Allow the employees to thoroughly explain their ideas before making a decision about whether or not to try it.

By this same ideology, an “unmotivated” employee may also not be as unmotivated as they seem. Some employees like to step back and analyze a situation, but will come up with a well-thought-out solution, while others will jump right in and start doing what they see fit to solve a problem without stopping to think of repercussions. The two working styles both have their merits, but it is often the quick-to-action employee that is praised and called motivated.

4. Work with Employees to Set Goals

Dictating goals to employees is almost as bad as micromanaging. Employees may feel that there is a better way to do things and it can affect their perspective, productivity, and motivation. Sitting down with employees to set goals can give them more ownership over a project and motivate them to come up with more ideas in the future – sometimes even if you don’t actually use the ideas they come up with in the session.

5. Follow Up On Projects and Provide Feedback

After a goal has been set, it is important to follow up to make sure that the employee is working steadily on a project and showing indications of motivation. As the project progresses and especially after the project is completed, providing feedback is critical. Based on the employee’s performance, they should be either rewarded or corrected so that future expectations are understood.

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