Keeping Employees Motivated

Keeping Employees MotivatedI don’t claim to be a tremendous motivational speaker, but I do get excited talking about business. I especially enjoy working with small and medium-sized companies, so dealing with sweeping contractors is right up my alley. I love learning from our industry and have met some of the best people on the planet. This includes my own NiteHawk family; the good people here truly love their work. It’s not unusual for me to have to kick them out of the building at the end of the day!

In working with clients and other business owners, I often hear that not everyone is as excited about their jobs as NiteHawk employees. After all these years in the business, I’ve discovered that unmotivated employees usual fall into one of three categories. In this article, I’ll describe the three groups and give you some tips on how to handle each.

Group 1: Stuck in the Present

Sometimes an employee loses enthusiasm for his job because he can’t see a future. This individual has usually faced some kind of discouragement, either personally or professionally, and he has lost belief in himself and his own work. People in this group may have been discouraged by presenting a good idea that was never implemented, or they may not see opportunity for advancement. They may have been negatively affected by a wage freeze, health challenges, or problems at home. These are good people looking for a reason to do better. Sometimes they do not even realize they are stuck in a rut.

The key to motivating these individuals is straight forward and frequent communication, followed by action. In private meetings, or with others when appropriate, highlight the positive things this person does and can bring to the work. Reward forward thinking, and when an idea doesn’t seem to fit in the overall strategic plan, follow up to explain. If possible, change pay structures to incorporate bonuses for real improvement based on measureable metrics.

At NiteHawk we’ve held contests where the winner receives an Ipod for the best new manufacturing improvement. It can be surprising how employees react when the company shows their appreciation. Show them that you recognize their contribution to the team and take a genuine interest in their wellbeing. If you don’t feel like this toward your team, look in the mirror and find a way, because you are one of the obstacles blocking their motivation.

Group 2: Ready to Go, but Not Sure Where

The second group can see a future with the company, but the overall structure is not in place to appropriately reward them. Not only does this dampen the motivation of the employee, but also it prevents a company from achieving its objectives.

As Cuba Gooding’s character Rod Tidwell said in Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money!” To confront your company’s internal barriers to employee motivation, start by reviewing the compensation structure of your sales team, supervisors, or whoever seems to be losing steam. Find ways to reward for performance, not for potential. Even as you increase available rewards, keep your expectations firm and clear. Holding the line can be difficult, but it will weed out the team members that don’t want to perform and provide a spark to the ones that do. Every company is unique and there are thousands of different compensation structures to fit your business. Search around and find one that works for you. Reach out to fellow industry members (like me!) for fresh ideas.

Group 3: Nothing Left to Give

The last group may be the most disappointing, but the simplest to deal with. Some employees, for whatever reason, demonstrate that no matter what structure is in place, they are just not going to give you any more. If you’ve given them a chance with some of the above suggestions, and their behavior doesn’t change, the solution is relatively simple: fire, replace, and focus your attention on the people who really want to do better.

People have written thousands of books on motivating employees. I have outlined just a few things which have helped our team and sweeping organizations around the country. Understanding and identifying your employees’ motivations is the key to developing a productive and efficient team. Lead by example, and if you ever feel like you’re losing your motivation, maybe all you need is a shiny new toy. Hey, I got an idea. How about a new sweeper?

Story by Tracy Day