An engaged employee will do exponentially better work than someone who is just dialing it in.
Over the past nine years of interviewing entrepreneurs and small business owners for the MSNBC program “Your Business” and as the founder of Goodshop, I’ve heard a lot of different ideas around how to make sure your employees continue to challenge themselves.
Here are three that work:
Set Expectations High From the Start
From day one, you must make it clear that you expect employees to do their very best work for you.
Whenever anyone new hands in their first project, ask them, “Do you think this is absolutely complete and your best work?” And if he answer is no, give the person a chance to go back and improve it.
The key to making this effective is to no look at the work before asking the question. This way is does not come off as criticism, but rather a setting of expectations.
While, to some, this may sound harsh, it sends the message that you are not interested in work that is halfway done.
I spoke to the direct reports of a woman who does this and they all love working for her because they know she sets the bar high and supports people in reaching it.
Give Feedback – Good and Bad – As it Happens
Don’t wait for an employee review to let your employees know when they’ve done something great or not so great.
A thank-you from the boss is one of the most motivating pieces of feedback an employee can receive. A very detailed thank-you is even more valuable.
Lolly Daskal, head of Lead from Within in New York, explains that letting people know that they matter is incredibly simple but very meaningful.
For example, instead of just saying “Good job,” Lolly might say, “Wow, your creativity helped us think outside the box. Thanks for not only your innovative thinking but for showing true leadership in expressing your ideas and pushing them through.”
That highlights the skills they used to achieve that job, which will encourage them to repeat the behavior in the future.
Even more motivating than a verbal thank-you is a handwritten note from you. Taking a couple of minutes to write something down shows your employee that you truly appreciate what they’re doing.
On the flip side, when you feel an employee needs some help, have a timely conversation with them then too. Kenneth Trinder, CEO of EOS Surfaces, warns that you should never give criticism when you’re feeling emotional or very disappointed.
Always wait until you’ve been able to reflect on what you actually want to accomplish through giving the feedback.
Share Your Company’s Accomplishments at the End of Every Year
Keep a list of all of your company’s accomplishments each year and read the list at your holiday party. By the time December rolls around, most people forget what they did in January or February.
This is a great way to wrap up the year and get everyone psyched to accomplish even more the next year. Even if your company is going through a hard time, there will be moments to celebrate that can continue to keep your staff motivated.
Three Photo via Shutterstock
For many people, giving feedback is really easy until it’s time to give negative feedback. That’s the test of your system.
I agree about setting expectations high from the start. That is because it is the time when they are in the mood to please. When they are in a habit of doing great right from the start, then they will appreciate it if you lower your standards a little sometimes to let them relax.