If your employees are dragging and giving less than they've got, it might be a matter of motivation. It's your job as business owner to inspire your staff, keep them happy, and fuel them to do the best job possible for your company. Here's how.
1. Listen to Them
When employees vent, do you get caught up in their words or do you hear the underlying problem? If they are unhappy, and it's a reasonable request, do your best to fix it. If an employee's issues have started to affect their attitude, you need to fix the problem before it spreads or before that employee hands in her notice.
Let your employees know they can speak to you candidly. When they do come to you, make sure you have your listening ears on. Sometimes they want a problem solved; other times, they just want a sympathetic ear. Figure out which they want and act accordingly.
2. Be Supportive
Many entrepreneurs think that support is a one-way street, in that employees support the business and not the other way around. Understand that you have an important relationship with your employees and, if you foster it properly, you can create satisfied employees that help your business grow quickly.
Consider how you can support your team. Educational development and training, motivation programs, and incentives can show that you care about each of your employees and make them feel more vested in contributing their all to your business.
3. Encourage Employee Development
Employee development sounds like it must be expensive, but it can be done simply too. It can range from setting up an informal book club to sharing thoughts on the latest developments in your industry to lunch-time lectures from one employee to the rest of the team.
It is important to give each employee the chance to shine by sharing his or her knowledge, passions or hobbies. Your receptionist can teach your team about using the phone system more effectively or your lead designer could share how to enjoy her favorite hobby - knitting - in the break room over bagels and coffee.
4. Nurture Their Growth
Offering your staff an environment where they can develop discipline, foster growth and cultivate sustainable habits will help them grow with your company. Do your best to treat your employees as equals, not minions, and encourage their capacity to grow. If you know a particular employee has grown out of his current position, don't hold him back; consider him for a promotion or give him additional responsibilities to take on.
5. Show Your Appreciation
Gestures and words of appreciation always brighten someone's day. While I'm sure the creator of Administrative Professionals' Day had her heart in the right place, celebrations of this sort can feel hollow if the boss is unpleasant the other 259 days of the work year.
Build appreciation into the culture of your company. While buying a cake for the birthday boy or in the office may seem fun (unless that person is on a diet), instead, let the employee choose how to celebrate their special day. Stick a Post-It note on a staffer's desk with a cheery note of appreciation. Give your staff a half-day off after they've met a particularly grueling challenge.
Keeping employees motivated and working hard for you doesn't necessarily require that you pay them the highest salary in town. It's the small, thoughtful ways you manage your team that help them become loyal to you and keep them happily motivated.
This article was originally published under the title How to Keep Employees Happily Motivated in Your Small Business at www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
Melinda F. Emerson, SmallBizLady is America's #1 small business expert. She is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She writes a weekly column for the New York Times, publishes a resource blog, www.succeedasyourownboss.com, which is syndicated through The Huffington Post. She also hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #SmallBizChat for small business owners. As a brand, she reaches 1.5 million entrepreneurs a week on the internet. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. Forbes Magazine named Melinda Emerson one of the #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. Melinda has been featured on MSNBC, Fox News, NBC Nightly News and in Fortune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise. She is the bestselling author of "Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works," and the ebook How to Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.