5 Ways to Motivate and Recognize Your Employees

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When you're in charge of a team of employees, finding meaningful ways to motivate and recognize them for their hard work is important. Especially these days when so many people are out of work and looking for jobs, while the people who still have their jobs are forced to work longer and harder without bonuses, raises or other incentives.

The problem with motivation and recognition is that it's really difficult to get it right. I have worked for managers who just haven't gotten it, while others have always seemed to have a knack for making their employees feel good about the work they do. Bad recognition is worse than none at all. In fact, many advice columns these days are filled with people who are complaining about the way their employers handle recognition. For example, a recent column by Dear Prudence, dealt with a letter from a woman who worked for a company that recognized employee successes by gathering the team together and forcing the employee who had achieved a goal to dance in front of the group. The experience was so mortifying for the letter writer that she found herself trying hard to not achieve her sales goals just to avoid the recognition.

Don't let this happen to your team! If you are struggling to find meaningful ways to motivate and recognize your employees, here are 5 tips to help:

Keep them in the loop - When your team knows what's going on, they feel empowered to make decision about what is most important. Let them know how your division is doing, where it's going and where they fit in. Feeling like a trusted, valued team member makes employees motivated and stronger, which is good for their work satisfaction and your company's well-being.

Be flexible - Your employees aren't robots and at some point or another, everyone has things that happen in their lives that present major challenges. If it is at all possible, try to be flexible with work schedules, telecommuting and shifting work loads. Of course, this isn't possible in every situation, but if it is, try to find ways to work with your employees.

Invest in training - Give your team many ways to grow and learn. Set long term goals as well as short term ones. When you show that you care about their career progression and have enough confidence in them to invest in their professional growth, you make them feel valued. Of course, as they reach their goals, look for small ways to acknowledge their achievements.

Provide timely feedback - I know that when you are swamped with other responsibilities, finding the time to think about each employee and their job performance can be tough. But, you can't wait until there is an issue to touch base with them. Instead, plan frequent check-ins so that you can let them know how they are doing and they can have the opportunity to tell you about the projects they are working on. Give them praise and tell them what they need to work on.

Celebrate the milestones - When your team achieves a goal, take the time to celebrate it. Make recognition part of your team culture.Celebrations don't have to be elaborate or take away much time from the workday. They simply serve as a way to applaud what has been accomplished and get a clear focus on the next challenge.

Keeping employees motivated is so important to overall success. What types of things do you think are important? Have you worked in a place that got it all wrong? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for SalesHeadsBlog and Nexxt. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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