Driven and motivated individuals are important in any organisation, but this is particularly important for those SMEs where every single person needs to be at their absolute maximum. In an environment like this, you as a manager can’t afford to have people falling below their required level, as there is less margin for error than there would be in a larger business. If this does happen, you need a proper plan in place to deal with it. This should incorporate regular updates and reviews, as well as honest discussions to see if there are any deeper issues which are affecting performance.
There are several ways you can ensure that your staff are well motivated, and this does not just mean financial incentives. Of course this is a key driver for most people, and I am a firm believer in linking bonuses to tangible results. By doing this your staff have an obvious reward for meeting or exceeding expectations – whether it’s a salesperson who has to bring in new business, a credit controller who has to save costs, or the receptionist that needs to provide exceptional service.
But I also believe in making sure the people who work for you have an emotional as well as a financial investment in the business. If you can get your staff dedicated to the company’s values, then you will increase loyalty. This in turn leads to stability, which is particularly important for an SME as the cost of replacing staff can be quite high. It also means they will be providing a genuine and high quality service to your customers or clients.
If you really want to create an innovative and entrepreneurial company, then you should look to have a blend of skills and characteristics on your team. People with different talents and characteristics will bring a variety of approaches to problems and can bounce ideas off each other. But this also means that the one-size-fits-all approach to motivation is not an option. Everybody is wired differently and a key part of a manager’s job is to understand what makes each member of staff tick.
Some people need encouragement and support from time to time, while others might be more self-motivated and independent. Of course as a company grows, it becomes more difficult for the person at the top to know the strengths and weaknesses of all their employees. This is where the hiring process becomes more important than ever – the people being brought in to manage different departments need to take on this responsibility.
Of course most employees also want to be in an environment where they can enjoy themselves. It is often said that you don’t have to like somebody to work with them, and this may be true. But to get the best results, particularly in a smaller business, you should aim to create a strong team spirit and camaraderie. Regular activities and social events are seen by some managers as a waste of money – but what price can you put on a well-motivated workforce?
What I’ve also found in all my businesses is that a culture where people can put forward ideas at will is a brilliant motivator. This is particularly the case for new and junior staff members. Remember these are generally the people at the coalface of the business; the ones who are dealing with customers on a regular basis. By allowing them to contribute ideas you are telling them how much you value their opinion, and for an employee there is no better feeling that this.