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It would be great to think that every work environment hums along steadily, its productivity and teamwork levels always right where they should be. But anyone in the workforce can tell you that’s not true. At their core, companies and teams are made up of individuals whose personalities, work ethics and abilities all combine to impact how a place operates.

If you’re looking to increase motivation and productivity in your workplace, it is on that individual level where you need to begin recasting your approach. Motivation takes coaching – some subtle and some broad encouragement. Finding success in this effort also hinges on the relationships that exist within a particular workplace. This is because employee motivation depends greatly on the overall health of relationships in an organization. Let’s look at some different methods that will help you foster motivation and growth in your workplace.

Understanding What Employee Motivation Is

First, you should understand that not all employees are motivated in the same way. There are two primary forms of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It’s driven by an employee’s desire to impress a manager, gain more knowledge or a better skill set. Workers with intrinsic motivation have a desire to make an impact at the company. In contrast, extrinsic motivation comes from the outside. Examples of this include employees who are driven by goals of a higher salary, more vacation days or a promotion. Understanding what motivates a particular employee goes a long way when you’re trying to find a targeted way to encourage them to increase their productivity.

Give Their Work a Purpose

Company-wide meetings designed to tout overall success can be a bonding event for employees, but to really give their work a purpose, you want to break down that information into several things that have meaning to them. Communication is a key factor in motivation. You want to give workers as much insight as you can into how the work they are doing contributes to the company’s bottom line, or leads to success with a client. Details are a much bigger motivator than a pat “Good job, everyone.”

At larger companies, this insight can be shared at a department level rather than individually. Breaking employees into groups for this type of motivation also serves to foster a sense of teamwork. This can increase productivity if they all feel like they are pulling together to achieve a particular goal, or that together they are responsible for a particular success.

Encourage Transparency & Trust Within the Company

This can be a culture change for some managers and even some companies. Building trust between employees and managers has a lot to do with transparency, and companies being willing to be open and honest from the top down. This doesn’t mean every employee needs to be updated on all financial or legal details of an operation. But it does mean it’s good to give your employees clear insight into a company’s goals, best practices and its overall mission. If everyone is on the same page and is being given the same information, it will make it easier for them to perform their jobs effectively.

Here are some easy ways to build trust in your workplace:

  • Directly address issues raised by employees, even if the answer is “I don’t know, but I will find out.”
  • Tell the truth.
  • Be patient with employees’ questions.
  • Be supportive of employees’ needs.
  • Respect employees’ time.
  • Follow through on promises made to employees.

Respect & Invest in Employees

Many companies talk a good game about respecting their employees, but making that a reality comes down to managers who will take deliberate and regular actions to treat their employees well. Respect means showing employees that you genuinely care for them. This means listening when they are talking, when they present new ideas, and asking questions to show you are interested in how they are doing their jobs. It also means knowing enough about their life outside of work that you can be respectful of anything they are going through that might impact their motivation. You won’t know every detail of their lives – nor should you – but you can create strong enough relationships where they feel comfortable talking to you as a trusted colleague.

Another hallmark of a good manager is someone who will invest in their employees’ growth. This can be tricky for some bosses, who might want to keep a certain employee in a specific spot because that person is a good, productive worker. But if that person is not happy in the job they are doing – or they are interested in climbing the next rung in the workplace ladder – a manager risks losing that employee if they don’t make an investment. Talking to employees about what their future career looks like is a good place to start. Show that you are listening to what they have to say, and make it clear you will come back to them with options if you are able to. Some may want more responsibility in their current job, others may be eager to learn a new skill, and a few may have their eye on a specific promotion. By starting a conversation, you are showing you are willing to invest in their future.

Create an Upbeat & Positive Work Environment

Most workplaces have at least a few employees with unfailingly sunny personalities. But to create a positive work environment for everyone, it takes managers to lead that effort and ensure the upbeat attitude comes from the top down. There are a few easy ways to improve the vibes in your workplace. Here are a few:

  • Encourage teamwork and idea sharing
  • Eliminate conflict as soon as it arises
  • Celebrate employee achievements

When you are trying to boost motivation and productivity in the workplace, how much success you have will depend on how aligned your employees are with the efforts managers are putting forth. Building trust with your employees, respecting them and letting them know you are ready to invest in their futures will go a long way toward creating a workplace that you can be proud of.