The Most Important Decision You Make to Motivate Your Employees

Motivate Your Employees

Scary Statistics

Depending on the study you read, anywhere from 66% – 77% of American employees are disengaged…doing far less than their best work.

Unmotivated employees:

  • Take twice as many sick days
  • They’re five times more likely to leave within the next year
  • Are 56% less likely to recommend friends use the product or service they represent
  • They don’t innovate, problem solve, or take responsibility
  • Their customer service stinks

Disengaged teams cost money, time, stress, and suck the life out of the organization.

Why Does This Happen?

The most important factor affecting employee motivation is not too surprising.

Study after study continue to emphasize the role that immediate supervisors play in employee satisfaction.

You’ve probably heard that:

People join organizations, but they leave managers.

This plays out in many ways, but it’s very telling that 80% of those very dissatisfied with an immediate supervisor are disengaged and…

2/3 of Americans would choose a better supervisor over a raise in pay.

Yes, other factors play a role, but the single most determinate is your employees’ immediate supervisor.

The Most Important Decision

If you’re wondering how to motivate your employees, the single most important decision you will make is who you promote.

If you are the immediate supervisor – guess what?

You have more influence on whether your employees are engaged that anything else.

If you are a mid-manager, department head, or a company executive, think about it for a moment:  all of your values, everything the company stands for, the major day-to-day experience of the organization – all of it…

…is experienced by an employee through their immediate supervisor.

The data suggest that for the vast majority of employees, that experience is not a good one.

How to Promote the Right People

When you’re looking for individuals to place in roles of responsibility and leadership, you’re looking for several characteristics:

  • Integrity & Character
  • Motivated primarily by combined focus on people and results, not power, prestige, or pennies
  • Personal responsibility
  • Ability to influence without formal authority
  • Ability to judiciously use power
  • Ability to have difficult conversation when needed
  • Ability and desire to learn new set of skills
  • Competence

Most employees don’t come to you with all seven of these already fully developed.

In fact, apart from integrity, character, and personal responsibility, the others will be developed over time.

This means that you will need to invest in building these traits in your employees and give them opportunities to demonstrate these abilities.

If you want to reveal leaders and build leadership capacity, you’ve got to provide opportunities to practice influence with out power as well as chances to exercise power to see if it is abused.

Pay attention to ad hoc projects, interdepartmental teams, committees, interim-assignments when a supervisor is absent, as well as employee-sponsored initiatives.

These all provide ample chances for your team to practice their leadership skills and for you to evaluate potential (and pitfalls).

Final thought:  do not outsource leadership development to HR or another department.

They may provide vital training, but as a leader your success depends on the quality of the leaders you develop.

Take responsibility. Make the most important decision regarding employee motivation a good one!

Your Turn

How do you ensure you develop effective leaders and promote the right people?

I’d love to hear your thoughts:

If you’re reading this in email, hit reply and let me know what you think. If you’re on the web, leave a comment below.

Finally, if you know someone who would benefit from this article, please share, tweet, +1, stumble or like!

Take care,


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Photo by Lori Greig

Sources: Dale Carnegie Employee Engagement, Corporate Leadership Council, Gallup, PRWeb

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