Employee Motivation

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A supervisor's two most important functions are to develop and motivate their employees.  This page provides a number of resources that can help supervisors create an environment in which every employee wants to do his/her best.



Building a Better Carrot

Government budgets and personnel rules can make it difficult for public managers to reward great employees with bonuses or promotions as flexibly as managers in the private sector can.  This terrific article from GovernmentExecutive.com outlines some of the creative employee recognition strategies that Federal managers have used with great success.


Metric Misgivings

The use of metrics is all the rage these days.  There is no question that metrics can be extremely useful for setting goals and tracking progress.  But as Bob Behn points out in this terrific column for Government Leader Magazine, metrics will really only influence employee behavior if supervisors are also doing all those other things leaders are supposed to do, such as establish a clear purpose, develop their people, provide recognition for great performance, and obtain adequate resources.  At the end of the day, goals are unlikely to be met if employees don't have the tools, knowledge and skills they need to do the work.


What's a Manager to Do?

When Jim Trinka was Director of Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness for the IRS, he conducted extensive research on what separates the IRS's most effective leaders from the rest.  Drawing on more than 1,000 360-degree evaluations of managers, Trinka determined that working on two key competency areas--"developing your staff" and "communication"--could increase leadership effectiveness by 50-60 percent.  He also found that the most effective way to develop employees is to ensure that learning is an integral part of their work.  Full of high-impact and actionable advice, every public manager should read this paper.  Also check out Dr. Trinka's Action Plan to Achieve Breakthrough Improvement in Employee Productivity and Leadership Effectiveness.


Motivation Secrets

This excerpt from John Baldoni's book Great Motivation Secrets of Great Leadersprovides an excellent overview of the leadership behaviors that contribute to employee motivation.  Includes some excellent leadership stories and summarizes the framework covered in the book.


Employee Engagement

The Gallup Organization has done extensive research on the factors that cause employees to bring passion and creativity to their work.  First described in the book First, Break All the Rules, "employee engagement" goes to the heart of what differentiates great organizations from the mediocre.  The Gallup Organization has graciously allowed GovLeader.org to post several articles from the Gallup Management Journal.


Enabling Under-Performers to Become Valued Contributors

Jean-Fran├žois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux published this insightful article in the March/April 2003 issue of the Ivey Business Journal.  They describe how supervisors' low expectations can actually drive the performance of their subordinates to lower levels.   The article is based on the authors' recent book The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail.  For a very content-rich online archive of articles on leadership and management, see the Ivey Business Journal's web site.


Making Creative Use of Employee Recognition Programs

Most government agencies have employee recognition programs, yet employee surveys often indicate that those programs often have little motivational effect.  This article discusses the importance of using a mix of employee recognition techniques throughout the year.  Includes free award certificate templates.


The Link Between Innovation and Motivation

Most employees have ideas about how to improve their organization.  Unfortunately, many managers fail to encourage employees to contribute their ideas--or inadvertently discourage them from doing so.  This article discusses several techniques managers can use to foster innovation in a way that can energize employees and improve your operation.


Unleashing the Power in Your Workforce

In chapter 1 of A Company of Leaders: Five Disciplines for Unleashing the Power of Your Workforce, Robert Quinn and Gretchen Spreitzer discuss several highly successful organizations where employees at all levels act like leaders.  The key to the success of those organizations, they assert, is that managers have created the conditions where self-empowerment can flourish.   As he does in his books Deep Change and Building the Bridge as you Walk on It, Quinn argues that leaders must change themselves in order to change their organizations.  The authors also discuss how the term "empowerment" became overused in the 1990s (and thus dismissed by many as a fad) and describe some of the obstacles to empowerment. 


How to Lead Now

How do you motivate your employees and build loyalty when you don't have the ability to give big pay raises, bonuses or other financial incentives?  This article from the August 2003 issue of FastCompany provides several case studies about managers who inspired their employees to do great things despite the lack of financial rewards.  They did it by showing day in and day out that they care about their employees.  Includes a number of very inspirational stories.


EPIC: The Science and Art of Delegating

This article, from the Spring 2002 issue of the Kravis Leadership Institute's Leadership Review, provides a useful framework to help managers delegate more effectively.  The EPIC Model of Delegation provides a graduated approach to delegation (and empowerment) that addresses the fact that both "delegators" and "delegatees" may be very uncomfortable with delegation until there is a strong level of trust between the supervisor and subordinate.


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