The Great Motivator: Connecting with employees to change your workplace


Anyone who has ever been on either side of the employer-employee relationship coin knows that keeping motivated can be a challenge. The modern world is filled with a constant stream of potential distractions and personal challenges. How then can we as both workers and supervisors build a company commitment to engagement? SVAM was fortunate enough to co-host a training recently at General Dynamics in Marion, Virginia on motivating employees. Jim Christensen of Dale Carnegie led the “How Smart Leaders Create Engaged Employees” training, and while you’ll have to visit Dale Carnegie to book your own training on the subject, we were inspired by the event to write a little blog post of tips to get your employees motivated and keep it that way.

  1. Our biggest takeaway from the training and our own research through employer-advice resources is that you need to care and show it. One of the biggest lessons we can all learn in our professional and personal relationships is to actually stop. Be quiet. And listen. Employees (and employers) are human beings just like you. They have problems, they experience personal tragedy, they get married and they care for aging parents. Be aware of those things. Ask your employees how they’re doing and mean it. Actually listen to their responses and give a real reply, not just a robotic “I’m sorry” or “That’s great”. A lot of times, you’ll find that employee performance and behavior is linked to outside issues not necessarily related to the workplace. By expressing interest and concern about their lives, you give them a chance to express themselves so that they can feel supported and confident as they do their jobs.
  2. One of the best ways to get your employees engaged is to ensure that they have an invested personal interest in what they are doing! This is especially true with younger generations of employees, but applies across the spectrum of ages. Employees will perform better if they understand the big picture of their company and their role. Workers are no longer satisfied with doing one small motion in the machine! They want to know what the machine looks like, who’s driving and the destination they’re traveling toward.
  3. Give useful criticism and advice, but be more generous with praise. Call out employees who have performed exceptionally well in a specific regard. Highlight his/her accomplishments and shout it from the rooftops to other employees. When a person is only recognized for his/her mistakes, it’s easy to become disinterested and sucked into a spiral of “I can’t do anything right, so I don’t care”. When that same person is showered with praise for when they do something great, then they want to continue repeating the actions and attitude that led them to the moment of praise.

There are a lot of ways we can stay excited about our jobs or encourage our employees to get excited, but really, many of them come down to this…treat your employees (and yourself) as a valuable member of the team that is your workforce. Their role is essential. Your work matters. Just by being who we are, we are important. If you work with that attitude, Fridays might become the saddest day of the week. Just kidding, they won’t. But the other four days of the week will be better. We’d love to hear your tips for staying motivated at work and inspiring employees-comment below!


*Thanks to Jim Christensen and Dale Carnegie for the informative training.