Top 10 Ways to Challenge Employees to Perform

None of us should be so naïve to think that we can, or even should, manipulate another person to perform a certain way at work. Our challenge is knowing how to ethically motivate, encourage, reward, and recognize our fellow employees in the right way, and to produce the results that every company hopes to have. This month we give you some ideas to challenge the status quo when it comes to getting employees to perform to their highest potential.

1. You’ve Got to Answer the Big “Why?” in Their Heads

Employees need to know why they should work for you. What is their purpose, and how can they contribute to the firm? They must believe in your vision and purpose as a leader for moving the organization forward. Give them the answer to why they matter and they will follow you to help achieve the company’s goals.

2. Develop Unique Opportunities for Career Enhancement
Career advancement opportunities have long been correlated with improved performance. Today, however, there are rarely any positions available. That’s why career enhancement is even better. By allowing employees to determine how they can improve the job they have, they can build in their own challenges and design work for the future. Help your employees lift their current jobs to new heights.
3. Give Employees a Clearer Picture of Their Compensation
Job performance increases when employees know that their work is compensated commensurately with the contributions that they have made. Sit down and have a frank discussion with your employees and someone from compensation and benefits to better understand why someone is paid what they are. Knowing an employee’s perceptions of fair pay will help you to leverage their individual commitment to perform.
4. Align Employees’ Work Better With Strategic Objectives
When was the last time you felt that you made a difference at work? Imagine if, every day, the results of employees’ daily actions could be seen to move the gauge of performance on key strategic initiatives. By knowing the goals each person can impact allows an individual’s intrinsic, as well as extrinsic, motivators to kick in and elevate performance. 

5. Seek Employee Input Regularly on Ideas and Decisions
Don’t feel that, as a leader, you have to come up with all the answers and solutions. Gain greater enthusiasm and commitment by enlisting the suggestions of your employees. You’re multiplying the possibilities for progress by unleashing the capabilities of others. Utilize this readily available technique to maximize organizational results.

6. Boost Employees’ Self-Esteem and Confidence
Expect everyone to communicate positively with each other. Eliminate negative criticism of people and their work. Trust people with work and tasks that make them stretch. Debrief employees by using an approach that emphasizes strengths to acknowledge accomplishments and coach them in order to improve weak areas. When people feel good about themselves, they do great work.
7. Get Depth of Loyalty by Giving More Responsibility
That’s right: give employees a stimulating assignment for them to mull over and complete. Don’t tell them how to do it. Give them total ownership of the problem or need. Assign them a new role or something that they have never done before that will magnify their insights and abilities. Tell them you are expecting great things from them and they will shine.
8. Build in Chances to Learn, Risk, Fail, and Grow
We know employees are motivated by learning but it’s not often that we allow experimentation and innovation to thrive. Provide employees with the support to take risks with completing projects and with how tasks are done — there is more than one way to finish one. Let mistakes be open and become shared opportunities to learn together. If you haven’t let employees make a mistake recently, neither they nor you have learned much recently. Let them go to grow!
9. Create an Environment That Encourages Great Performance
Develop a culture and environment that permit every employee to encourage one another to produce the best work and ideas ever. Let online or on wall bulletin boards broadcast successes and requests for creative input. In meetings and online networks, share how team members motivate one another to contribute their best efforts to succeed.
10. Give Appreciation and Encouragement to Everyone
Everyone deserves to feel appreciated for who they are and recognized for what they do. Enlist each employee’s help to acknowledge the great and kind things that the people around them do. Ask them to share these observations so you can also compliment staff. Be seen out and about, catching people doing things right, too. Praise can truly be the tipping point to top performance.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and Chief Learning Officer of the Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio.