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7 ways to motivate your employees

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How would you like to become “Boss of the Year” to your staff? It may be a lot easier than you think. Here are seven questions to determine what motivates your employees (from leadership development speaker Mark Sanborn of Sanborn & Associates):

  1. What do you like most about your job? In these challenging economic times, you can’t always give raises or promotions. But if you give your employees more of what they like to do (things they are probably quite good at it), they will perceive that as a reward.
  2. What do you like least about your job? See if there are others who might not mind doing these things. I was the only “fool” in my department who liked public speaking. Yet, once I was able to take on more of those tasks, somebody else was happy to pick up my slack in other areas.
  3. What would you like to do in the future? The temptation, when you’re the manager of a well-oiled machine, is to want to keep it going. But maybe “Barbara” on your team has been doing her job for the last eight years and now wants to move on to other opportunities. Tell Barbara, “If you cooperate with me, I can help make your dreams a reality.” First, however, you need to find out what Barbara’s ambitions are.
  4. What would you most like to learn? Tell your employees that you will invest in them and help them arrive at their sought-after destination.
  5. When do you feel you do your best work? It may not necessarily be important when your employees do their work. Some people function best in the morning, some in the afternoon and some in the evening. Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, author of Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life, calls an employee’s prime time (no matter when it occurs) his “morning burst.” If not utilized properly, this period can turn into the “morning bust.” Bosses who give their employees the flexibility to schedule work around the rest of their lives can earn exceptional loyalty.
  6. Who do you like working with the most? We find, for instance, that “thinkers” love to work with other “thinkers.” (Thinkers tend to be accountants, engineers and IT professionals.) They dislike working with “socializers,” whom they may perceive to be disorganized, illogical and always out entertaining clients on the golf course. Furthermore, socializers may find thinkers to be way too detail-oriented and nit-picky.
  7. What’s most important to you in a job? This all-encompassing question can help you uncover your staff’s attitudes and philosophies and better understand their motivations.

Taking the time to ask questions of your employees will show them that you care. You may get the most out of this exercise if you listen not only with your ears, but also with your eyes and your heart. The answers may surprise you.

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Ted Janusz is an expert in face-to-face and social-media networking and the author of “Social Media Marketing Guide for the Insurance Professional.” He also conducts time-management seminars across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to