This Article Originally Appeared in the Sunday Business Post…

Ever wondered what turned the bright-eyed new recruits you  interviewed into slothful somnambulists?  If that is an accurate description of your employees, look to the mirror to find the real culprit.  Good organisations encourage people to retain the vitality and enthusiasm they first brought to the job.  They give direction, support and encouragement to staff   so they meet the objectives.  Good organisations give staff the scope to challenge and broaden themselves.  Good organisations impart to their staff a sense that they are valued, and that their efforts are valuable.  Putting that package together, and making it hold, is every manager’s biggest challenge.  Motivation is a tender flower.  It is seldom the big things which turn people on or off.  Some managers worry that, in paying attention to their employees’ needs, they might sacrifice their authority or seem patronising.

Two Tips:

Your authority will be meaningless if your staff are not on your side; being guilty of trying too hard is more forgivable than not trying.  What do you need to work motivational miracles?

Follow basic, common sense guidelines, and above all be consistent.

Be Clear About Goals:

Be clear about the organisations goals, your goals, and the goals you are setting for each individual.

Agree upon, rather than set, individual goals.

In return for having a say in their goals – which could include upgrading skills, for example – they are accepting responsibility for reaching yours.  In an adult to adult commitment, with the added benefit that it implies and encourages trust between both parties.  These goals have been achieved.  Goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and  Realistic.  Set/ agree a route map, so they know how they are going to achieve their goals.

Be Direct and Be Consistent:

Blow hot one day, cold the next and you’ll make people uncomfortable.  Be direct, avoid any  signs of favouritism or victimisation, and be consistent.  Remember the 80/20 rule.  This means 20% of your employees create 80% of your headaches.  Do not forget that the good performers are the ones doing the business for you, they need attention and encouragement too.  Do not spend your time “fire-fighting”:  your job is to get the best out of your resources.  Give feedback.  Let people know when they have done well, and let others know you are impressed and pleased.  “Praise in public, criticise in private” should be your golden rule.  Feedback should be timely, positive and constructive.

What is done is done, but you can encourage people to learn  from their mistakes and do a good job better.  Sometimes the  effort being made is worthy of recognition, even if the outcome is negative.  Every time you acknowledge someone’s work you add to your store of goodwill  –  this is something you will need to draw on in the future.  Be clear about the feedback you want.  When you say “Report back”, make it clear what when and how.  Nobody wins when a 60   page treatise arrives a week later than the single page of bullet points you thought you had asked for.  Do not set pointless tasks:  Keeping people busy for its own sake is demoralising.

If there’s slack time to be filled, either find worthwhile tasks  for people, or let them do something personally fulfilling.  Keep a sense of perspective.  Don’t overreact to situations; encourage people to bring you proposed solutions, not just the problem.  Play to people’s strengths.  Make allowances for weaknesses.  To get things done, build teams of people with complementary strengths.

Be Fair:

People have an intrinsic sense of fairness and justice. Betray that, fail to listen to everyone’s side before passing judgement, and you destroy trust.  Lead by example.  People will judge you by what you do, not what you say. It’s hard to argue with a boss who is in on time every day when he or she asks you to do the same.

Be reasonable, be empathetic.  You may be keen to work long nights and weekends, because there’s a promotion in the  offing, but what is in it for others?  It is not the best time to ask someone to stay late when they’re just about to leave for their first born’s first birthday party.

Being empathetic means putting yourself in others shoes. Being sensitive to their needs and wishes gives you a chance  to identify and respond to, what’s important, exciting, interesting or non-negotiable for them.

Be their champion.  You cannot expect loyalty if you do not give it.  Be willing to champion your staff’s causes and be seen to stand up for them