With leaner work forces, slower sales and tighter budgets, managers and executives need to motivate their employees to do more with less, according to Suzanne Bates, president and CEO of Bates Communications. Monetary incentives such as raises and bonuses are in short supply. Managers and executives must find non-monetary ways to keep their teams motivated, and to inspire them to achieve goals and objectives with fewer people and less funding. "This makes it even more important for leaders to be out in front of employees as much as possible, continually communicating and making personal connections with them," said Bates.
According to Bates, managers and executives can lead their teams to do more with less by doing the following:
1. Praise, reward, and recognize. "People really don't mind working hard; they just want to know that their efforts are appreciated," said Bates.
2. Communicate constantly. "In times like these, many managers tend to withdraw because they aren't getting clear direction from their own bosses," said Bates. "Fear grows in a vacuum, and employees will fill that vacuum of information with their own worries about their future."
3. Be open and honest with employees. "Even if leaders don't have all the answers, they need to share the latest news and developments with their people - both good and bad," Bates said. "Keep the information flowing in order to lower the anxiety and stress that stem from uncertainty."
4. Adopt a variety of ways to find out what is on employee's minds. "It will require using several different approaches to dig deep and discover how employees are feeling," Bates said. "These methods include walking around among employees and asking questions, individual face-to-face meetings, informal brown-bag lunches and town hall meetings."
5. Give employees an opportunity to vent about such issues as layoffs, increased workloads, salary freezes and other cutbacks. "Once they know you are listening to them and paying attention to their concerns, they are far more likely to put forth an extra effort in spite of the challenges," said Bates.
6. Don't be afraid to push your employees to take more initiative and become more involved. "Encouraging employees to be more resourceful, rather than waiting for direction, can inspire creativity, energy, and motivation. Employees will be proud to know that their individual efforts are part of the solution," said Bates.
7. Get clear about your own priorities. "Managers often hear that they need to communicate their priorities," said Bates. "But they can't communicate these if they haven't decided what they are. Leaders need to make the tough decisions about what really needs to be done now, and what isn't as urgent and can wait longer."
8. Reassess day to day, even hour to hour. "What seemed important yesterday may not be so important today," Bates said. "Although your priorities must be based on a sound business strategy, you need to continually reassess them, and help your team make good decisions about where to spend their time and resources."
9. Get in closer touch with customers, prospects and vendors. "You and your team need up-to-the-minute information from those outside your organization - customers, prospective customers, and vendors - in order to make decisions," Bates said.
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