May and I spent time working with a team recently helping to upgrade their staff communications. We had several Q&A sessions during the 3 days of training. One question we were asked in different situations was, “How do we motivate those we work with?” In working with people over the years, here’s what we’ve learned about keeping people motivated to work hard.

1. Respect people.
Employees want respect from the boss. Compliment them, look for things people are doing well and let them know you are pleased with their work. Ask about their home life, celebrate their birthdays, care about people and they will take care of you. Make it clear you live to serve them and want to help them learn God’s assignment for their lives and not the other way around – that they are here to serve you. Remember the sheep are not to lay down their lives for the shepherd, but the shepherd for the sheep.

2. Be worthy of respect.
Just as people need to feel valued, they also want to respect the boss. Employees want to believe that their boss is a leader who is worthy of their work and their loyalty. Be on time, make clear decisions, and keep your word even when it hurts you or the company. These are perhaps three of the most important attributes employees look for in a leader.

3. Listen.
Employees hate it when the boss doesn’t have the time or the interest to listen to what they have to say. Workers don’t expect you to always take their advice, but if you do not listen to them they will assume you really don’t care about them. (See #1)

4. Make them proud.
Employees want to be proud of their work, their workplace, their boss. (See #2) Create a happy, healthy work environment and give each person work commensurate with their abilities.

5. Be fair.
Nearly everyone knows life isn’t fair, yet workers hate favoritism. They expect the perks and promotions to go to the people who work hard, not the people who kiss the bosses’ butt. If an employee is not contributing or making life miserable for others, let him go, your people will respect you for it.

6. Be a teacher.
Workers want the boss’s help when they ask for it, or when they’re floundering so badly they’re afraid to ask for it. What employees don’t want is to have the boss looking over their shoulder all the time. Be a teacher, a coach, but once people are trained, let them do the work you’ve given them to do.

7. Protect your people.
Reduce people’s stress. Workers hate the sense that they’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Bosses must plan carefully, anticipate problems and set realistic goals according to each person’s abilities, so as not to add unnecessary stress to workers’ lives. If people don’t need to be in a meeting, don’t make them attend. And if they do need to be in a meeting make sure the meeting is worth their time and attention.

8. Be an encourager.
Practice the one another’s in your work place. Then as you practice them, take time to explain them. But be sure to be a doer of the one another’s first. As your staff learns the one another’s look for times they apply them. When you catch an employee or co-worker encouraging or helping someone else, give them a small reward, or words of praise, or an extra hour off work. May taught the team in their weekly staff meetings to give candy bars to those who had gone the second mile for them the past week

Notice what’s NOT on the list? Money. Why? Simply because people know what they will be paid when they accept the job. I rarely hear complaints about salary except in the context of a lack of the above motivations. Keep your people motivated and they will remain loyal and hardworking.

PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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