By Valerie Grubb Managing employees can be one of the most challenging–and also most rewarding–responsibilities as you move up within a company. When your management works and you see your employees surpass even their own expectations, it's wildly exciting and incredibly fulfilling! If you're new to managing employees – the great news is that you don't need a big budget to inspire your employees. The strategies listed below can help you motivate and engage your employees, even under the tightest financial constraints. 1) Provide Interesting Work Management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, "If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do." So give your employees good jobs by making sure that at least part of their responsibilities includes something of great interest to them. Even for those jobs that are inherently boring, having at least one or two stimulating projects can motivate employees to perform well in the mundane tasks, too. Recommend your employee to a new task force your CEO is forming, for example, or let him or her take the lead at your next staff meeting. Find out your employee's career aspirations, then identify assignments that will expand his or her skill set in the desired direction. The increased productivity you gain by providing interesting projects beyond the day-to-day tasks will more than compensate for the time your employees are away from their regular jobs. 2) Require Managers to Coach and Develop This strategy may sound like a no-brainer. But it bears repeating, because we all know managers who are slackers when it comes to coaching and developing their employees–and in these uncertain times, employees need feedback more than ever. Remember, employees join companies, but they leave managers. So hold your managers accountable for coaching employees to achieve outstanding results and developing their staff through mentoring and training opportunities (see the next two bullet points). If they aren't fulfilling those responsibilities, replace them with people who will. 3) Establish a Mentoring Program Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees. Why? Because those companies recognize that such programs bring a multitude of benefits to both protégé and mentor. Mentoring employees (especially new hires) can lead to better retention while mentoring aspiring talent can form the cornerstone of succession planning. Mentoring programs traditionally pair a junior employee with a more experienced colleague, but there's no need to stick only to this format. Reverse mentoring, for example, can help senior executives keep up with cutting-edge technology and with company issues that are usually only on the radar of junior staff. Group or situational mentoring is also on the rise for issues such as diversity or high-potential training. And if your company doesn't have a formal program, create your own! Establish mentoring relationships for your employees by tapping fellow executives (and agree to mentor their employees in return). 4) Train Your Employees Training doesn't have to cost money. No-cost and low-cost internal training options include:
- Establish a job-shadowing program – even if you're the executive your employee is shadowing! Allow your high potentials to gain exposure to senior executives through the projects on your plate.
- Arrange for monthly luncheons with your top executives whereby they can interact and ask questions.
- Allow your employees to represent the company at a public function (charity fundraiser, sporting event, etc.), teaching them the responsibilities when in front of clients.
- Expose employees to organizations with relationships to yours (e.g., visit a vendor, take a trip to customer's site).
- Rotate employees into areas in which they need to improve their skills or gain exposure for continued growth.
- Invite employees to spearhead projects in areas where they need improvement.
- Read case studies and books on issues that are relevant to your organization, and discuss with fellow executives. (Be sure to find out what books your CEO recommends!)
- Encourage employees to volunteer for industry organizations where they can develop leadership and management opportunities. Local non-profit groups, school organizations, or community-based programs may also be an option.