People are often referred to as a business’s most valued asset and in experience-based businesses more than any your team can make or break the customers’ experience. They are certainly also one of your biggest overheads. Are you unwittingly de-motivating them by treating them as just another disposable asset?
Keeping your team inspired and engaged can be challenging. But a demotivated team can lead to poor performance, poor customer service, poor attendance and ultimately to losing not only your best people, but also losing your valued customers.
So how do you show your team members that they are valued and what incentives can you give that show that you appreciate them without costing the Earth.
Before you do anything…
Start by finding out what’s important to them. Not everyone is motivated by the same things. In fact I can recall with one clients recently when they’d wanted to reward someone for going the extra mile with their customers they nominated this employee as employee of the month. Now you and I might think that this person would be pleased to be nominated; but, oh no, he didn’t like it one bit. So much so he actually put in a grievance against his line manager! Now I know this might be a bit extreme, but we should never assume what our team would like and what’s important to them.
1. Say thank you
The simplest thing you can do is to say thank you. Recognise and reward good performance, achievements and a job well-done. For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged.
Yes, they work for pay, but it always helps to know that their work is recognised. Not just as a routine passing comment, go out of your way to thank individuals when you spot them doing something that will delight your customers. Bring the team together at the end of a hectic day or hectic shift when everybody has pulled their weight to make sure everything goes smoothly.
If you are genuine in your appreciation, and choose it for the right moment, it can work wonders. A simple but honest appreciative remark can go a very long way.
Give feedback; what have they done well and how it has contributed; and don’t be reluctant to demonstrate where they have fallen short and how this can be improved. It all adds up to being even better next time around (as long as you’re not nit picking, of course).
Celebrate and share successes. And if you are going to praise, don’t just leave it till you are on your own with the employee. Find an opportunity when they are with their colleagues, and your praise will create a buzz! Make sure it’s genuine and specific for the task carried out, or the person might be seen by their colleagues as ‘teacher’s pet’.
Become aware of what hobbies and interests your employees have. Then when you are out and about and see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them. Coming into the business and saying “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”, will make them feel they are recognised for a great job. It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. But the thought it evokes will make a real difference.
2. A treat
Give people the occasional treat. It doesn’t have to be a lavish incentive; look at ways to reward that create a win-win: maybe a stay or a visit to a sister business or somewhere where they will be on the receiving end of outstanding service and are motivated to bring back more ideas that can be implemented in your business.
When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extend the treat to be shared with their loved one. This not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family and paves the way for future good deeds.
3. Time Off
For some people free time could be the most valuable gift you could give them.
Allowing flexibility to go home early, come in late, or take an additional day off to attend to a personal matter or just have a bit of fun can work wonders to their state of mind.
For those with a competitive spirit: Awards, competitions, even a league table. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to recognise their particular skills and strengths.
External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated for awards is a great booster. I remember when I worked in the corporate world and took over responsibility for sales training. Our new sales director was so impressed with what I had achieved he put me forward for the Institute of Marketing Sales Trainer of the year award. I didn’t win but I was one of the finalists, which gave me a great boost, and an opportunity to invite my colleagues along to the awards dinner which was great for my profile and for the business.
5. Development opportunities
We so often think of development as solely grooming somebody for promotion. This might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a member of our team has probably reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate.
Development should have the intention of making people the best they can be at their jobs. Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development when needed to bring out the best in these areas. Delegate and give some control and ownership, such as making people champions for specific areas. This gives them pride in what they do and they will appreciate that you’ve recognised where they do a good job, providing of course you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them.
Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well as enhancing skills to do their existing job. Think also about life skills; for example offering English lessons for migrant workers.
You may not be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place that gives people something to work towards. However, take time to discuss people’s aspirations; don’t just assume that if someone shows potential that they want more responsibility or to be groomed into a specific position. And be careful not to make promises on career moves that you’re unable to keep.
So by doing a little bit of homework and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways you can recognise and reward your team to show them some love and bring a smile to my face which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.