4 Unique Tactics You Can Use to Get More Out of Your Employees

March 13, 2017

These are motivational strategies bosses and managers can use to get more out of their employees.

Growing up through my mid-20s, I worked at my father’s construction company. And my dad was the king of creative methods for motivating his employees, myself included.

His favorite was reverse psychology. Paul, he’d tell me, we can’t frame that roof today. It’s too hard, it’s too hot, the roof is too high, we should just go home and call it a day. We’ll call in someone else to do it.

My manhood challenged, I’d get furious and start framing. A few hours later, it would be done, thinking that I showed him. And my father would barely be able to contain his glee, knowing his reverse psychology trick had worked again.

Now, I’m not suggesting you use that technique to motivate your workers. But you can’t rely solely on traditional methods of keeping employees motivated like paying people fairly and giving recognition. Those really matter, but they don’t necessarily keep people motivated day after day.

Sometimes, to get the absolute most out of your team, you need to get creative. And, in his LinkedIn Learning course Managing for Results, Instructor Todd Dewett details some of those unique techniques a manager can use to get more out of their people.

Four of them are:

1. Use visual management.

A big part of motivating people is having them focus on a singular goal. And you can aid that greatly by utilizing what Dewett calls “visual management”.

What’s visual management? Well, it’s pretty simple really – it’s a visual depiction of your team’s biggest singular goal.

For sales, this could literally be a drawing of a thermometer on a poster representing your team’s progress toward its quarterly quota. For marketing, something similar, but with leads. For manufacturing, perhaps production rates prominently displayed in the break room.

The point is to visualize the biggest goal your team needs to achieve and displaying that prominently in your workplace. That alone will increase your team’s focus, accountability and collaboration as they work together to reach that one outcome.

2. Get creative with your goals, particularly for a team of high performers.

Say you manage a team of high performers who consistently outpace expectations. First off, that’s great, you should thank them. But, to keep them motivated, you need to get more creative with your goals.

So say you want your team to be the best sales team in your division. Maybe they’ve achieved that. Next step – aspire to be the most successful sales team in your entire company. Once they’ve achieved that, aspire to be the most successful sales team in your industry.

The point is stagnant goals lead to stagnant workers. To keep high performers engaged and motivated, you need to keep finding new targets and challenging them to think bigger.

A quick caveat – you need to do the opposite with a team that is under-performing. Rather than making big goals they likely won’t achieve, the research shows it’s better to focus on small wins at first with an underperforming team. Once they start building up their confidence and capabilities, then they can start chasing bigger goals.

3. Reinforce the bigger purpose of the team.

There’s ample research that mission-driven companies vastly outperform companies that care only about the bottom line. And same goes for teams, Dewett said.

Ideally, your company is mission-driven, but even if it isn’t, there’s no reason your team can’t be mission-driven. So talk about the benefit your team’s work is doing. Talk about why you are passionate about what you do.

Say you are a mortgage company. Rather than always talking about interest rates and points and closing costs, emphasize to your team what they are doing – providing people a way to achieve the dream of owning a home.

Or say you work at a landscaping company. Take pride not just in the money you make or booking a new client, but in the beauty of your work. If someone does an outstanding job installing a new yard or patio, share pictures of their work with your team and talk to the joy that brings people daily.

It sounds cheesy, but that stuff makes a difference. There’s a reason you do what you do beyond just the money. Sharing that with your team motivates them in ways money cannot.

4. Use non-traditional rewards for outstanding work.

Obviously, people care about traditional rewards – money, promotions, recognition, bonuses – in a job. And you need to pay people the right way and promote the right people if you want to keep them motivated.

But, when someone does something above-and-beyond, a non-traditional reward goes a long way, Dewett said. Say, for example, one of your employees is an avid baseball fan and she excels at a project. Getting her two tickets for an upcoming game will mean a lot to her.

If your team accomplishes something great, then you should give a team-wide gift. Maybe giving them an afternoon off. Or taking them all out to lunch or a happy hour.

These non-traditional rewards are not soon forgotten and mean a lot to the people who work hard for you.

The Takeaway

The bigger point here is that there are the traditional ways to keep employees motivated and engaged. But, to bring the absolute most out of your team, sometimes you need to get creative.

These are just four motivational strategies you can use. You might have some other ideas. The key is figuring out what works for your team.

Want a comprehensive strategy on how to build a strong leadership pipeline within your organization? Check out our free guide on developing great people managers.