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What are some ways that managers can motivate their employees?

What are some unconventional ways that managers can motivate their employees, so that they will produce higher quality work?
Answers that would be most helpful to me would be those that could realistically be implemented into US businesses today.

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  • Nov 16 2013: Perhaps some of these;
    1) Identify what attributes represent quality work.

    2) Quality takes time, time is money. Define your balance.

    3) Recognize high quality work and outstanding performance contributions with meaningful praise and possibly financial incentives for large efforts, or product logo embossed items for smaller efforts. Stratify the tasks of all employees so when outstanding work is accomplished in any position, at any level, it becomes recognized, not just spotlight positions.

    4) Always keep the door open for new talent.

    5) Identify the cost of poor quality products (lost customers, lawsuits, lost revenues, etc) but with specific examples and real numbers from the group you are addressing.

    6) Make employee development a partnership. Train and improve your workforce aggressively.

    7) Loyalty is a two-way street. If you have the opportunity to help employees that are working through some extreme adversity, go first in trying to help them through it.

    8) Make profit expectations reasonable and realistic. Nothing takes the wind out of the sails of a workforce like a goal that is unrealistic.

    9) Look for opportunities to cross-train, shuffle tasks, and build well-rounded employees that understand the whole business rather than just some small compartmentalized aspect of it.
    10) Personalize the workspace with awards, achievements, teams, and group photos.

    The short answer is to bring pride to your workforce in themselves, the product and the company.
  • Nov 19 2013: Get out of the way.

    One of the first things I learned when running my own company was that most corporations -- large and small -- put roadblocks in the way of staff. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says "I think I'll go to work and do a shitty job today", but then you get to work and you have to deal with bureaucracy, poorly trained supervisors, power plays, and dysfunctional systems. Give employees the tools to do the job, remove bureaucracy and roadblocks, and let them get on with it. You don't have to "motivate" people; they motivate themselves. What you have to do is avoid is DE-motivating them.

    Maybe read Robert Galway's list, too. Some wise words there.
  • Nov 18 2013: Duane,

    Bob has given a great list. I recommend you look up HBR (may have to pay) and check out some of the case studies and papers on employee motivation.

    I would add one comment each employee is different - some money and power are the key motivators. While other will prize time off. Still others it is the problem or the latest technology. In a particular project, it is to get off the project due to the situation, technical or personal. I have found that the carrot works far better than the stick.
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    Nov 15 2013: You could try and change the overall culture of the organization.
    http://emergentbydesign.com/2012/06/28/a-step-by-step-guide-to-tribal-leadership-part-1-the-five-stages-of-tribal-culture/

    Found this book to be very good, based on research, and insightful on how to leverage organizational culture to create more productive employes.
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    Nov 15 2013: The best way is to renew the stock of employees regularly. The idea that people are supposed to hold on to the same boring jobs for decades is not only idiotic, it's also inhumane if you ask me.
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    Nov 15 2013: It really depends on the business model. Are we talking small businesses or medium to large ones? I like the idea of giving employees a stake in the company.
  • Timo X

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    Nov 14 2013: How to motivate employees to produce higher quality work, interesting question! I would suggest that the first step should be to understand the employees' perceptions of quality. Do they even agree that work of higher quality can be produced? If so, what changes or resources do they think this would require? Get answer to these questions and you know where the problems are. Only then is it possible to build towards a solution.
  • Nov 14 2013: There is no substitute for Modeling when it comes to desired behavior in others. As a step in the right direction, ditch the very concept of a Manager. It's like being stuck forever with Newtonian physics. Transcendence of tradition IS possible.
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    Nov 14 2013: A couple of talks you should check out are Dan Pink's on motivation, which is one of the most widely watched of all our TED talks, and Tim Brown's talk on creativity and play, which is another.