A manager has many duties. One of the most important ones is to motivate and inspire employees. Only motivated staff members will perform at their best and be maximally productive. Here are seven ways managers can motivate their employees.

1. Praise. People want to know if they’ve done a good job. The positive assessment from a superior position can be a powerful spur to productivity. While you shouldn’t tell a worker they did well when they didn’t, honest praise is a valuable motivational tool. Positive feedback will make an employee want to continue their success forward to their next project. Knowing your work is valued will help to motivate anyone.

2. Encourage autonomy. People are happier and more motivated if they feel they are in charge of their own destiny. Don’t be a micromanager or a control freak — an overbearing attitude will destroy morale. If an employee can handle it, let them have a freer reign. You don’t need to be staring over their shoulder on every project. Your workers will enjoy their jobs more (and do better work) if they have more freedom.

3. Treat them with respect. Just treating your employees like they are intelligent adults can help. Sadly, many corporate motivation campaigns are juvenile and insulting. Motivational posters have never motivated anyone, and team-building exercises are often a waste of time. Simply acting as if your workers are competent, sensible, and trustworthy can be a powerful motivator all on its own.

4. Allow honest criticism and complaints. Nothing’s more frustrating for a worker than feeling they can’t openly express their opinion on a touchy subject. Your subordinates will be much happier if you let them voice their complaints openly and plainly. Don’t bite an employee’s head off if they come to you with criticism. Of course, you must preserve your position of power — but you can allow plenty of leeway before your authority is compromised.

5. Ensure a healthy work life balance. Your staff doesn’t want to be worked to the bone. While riding your employees hard may boost productivity temporarily, the accompanying drop in motivation will ultimately be more significant. Workers can only be happy and energetic in an environment that respects the need to balance work and free time. So don’t demand overtime every week, and let your employees take time off if they have good reason.

6. Be fair. A boss who has double standards for pet employees will destroy office morale. One person receiving more than their fair share of credit (or money) devalues the efforts of everyone else. Employees left out in the cold will feel depressed and unappreciated. Adjudicate any disputes between employees in an impartial, even-handed way. While you’ll especially appreciate certain workers, don’t give them perks they don’t deserve — managers need to motivate all their subordinates.

7. Pay them more. Ultimately, the most effective motivator of all is money. People do their jobs for the pay they receive in return. Of course, it won’t always be possible to increase salaries — but if you really need to raise morale, raises are the best strategy. It isn’t just about having more money — an employee’s salary is also a sign of how much the company values them. People are more motivated to work for companies that value them highly.

To be a quality manager, you must devote yourself to employee motivation. The workers are the lifeblood of any company, but those workers will not perform well if they do not feel motivated. In contrast, an inspired employee will actually want to put forth their best effort. See if the above listed tips will help you motivate your team.

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