Motivation 101

Motivating staff and faculty during times of cut-backs, reductions in force, frozen wages, and increased responsibilities is tough.  It's not enough to remind people that they should feel good about having a job. Steve Tobak, writing in BNET.com, reminds us of some basic principles.  While he is casting a wide net, I think these ten suggestions are particularly important for continuing education leaders to remember. (Although the English teacher in me needs to point out that in Number 3, the modifier dangles. You can't hold goals accountable.  Sometimes I hate myself.)

How to Seriously Motivate People
It’s entirely up to you, the manager, to provide an environment that will meet those conditions. It isn’t easy, but then, you’ve got to ask yourself what kind of manager you want to be? If the answer’s a great one, you’ll need these 10 techniques for seriously motivating your people:

1. Exhibit flawless work ethic. Lead by example. If you screw around, they’ll emulate you. Likewise, if you’re seriously hard-working, they’ll seek your approval by doing the same.

2. Indoctrinate them with the big picture. Everybody wants to be a part of something useful. Make the work important to them by telling them why it’s important to others.

3. Set goals and hold them accountable. Goal setting in most companies is ineffective. It’s either too top down, too bottom up, or there’s little or no follow-up. Strike a balance somewhere in the middle. Where is different for each situation.

4. Provide genuine, real-time feedback, good and bad, no BS. Ask for the same from them. This is one of the hardest things for any manager to do, especially the negative stuff.

5. Promote their accomplishments and take the heat for their failures. They need to know you’ve got their back.

6. Provide the tools they need to be effective; keep management off their backs; otherwise, get out of the way.

7. Give them as much responsibility as they can handle, no more, no less. That’s sort of tricky if you have a big group because it’s really an individual thing.

8. Communicate what’s going on as openly as you can within reason and without unduly burdening them with confidential information they don’t need to know.

9. Give them personal time to get important things done. We’re not talking about running errands, but important stuff that’s got to be done 9 to 5 like doctor’s appointments.

10. Have some empathy, humility, and a sense of humor. It’ll go a long way. Mostly, be yourself. No jokes about sociopaths; they probably don’t read management blogs anyway.

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