Hey Taylor: Any ideas for workplace motivation? Really trying to avoid being the type of boss who everyone fears, but I’ve also got a few workers I feel like might be slacking. — Presley

Hey Presley: It’s a fine line between feeling overly authoritative and showing workers that you mean business. It’s always good to avoid playing bad cop, so here are a few approaches that might help you out.

■ Shake things up. When workers start feeling stagnant, their work usually suffers. You can combat this by giving people new assignments or just switching small things around, like where someone’s desk is. It’s often as simple as getting a person’s brain reengaged.

For some, a little more responsibility might improve their overall efforts.

If you have a worker with a few jobs and no firm timetables, give him or her something that needs to be done on a weekly basis. Assuming they want to keep their job, they’ll take on the new project and the added structure might help with the rest of their tasks.

■ Walk in their shoes. Business owners are committed to doing everything right because all the mistakes end up on our desks one way or another. As more procedures get added to the daily agenda, it can be easy to lose sight of what anything means to the workers tasked with carrying out these duties.

If you have someone importing details that seem insignificant, you need to think about how to either make that work feel more meaningful or decide if maybe it doesn’t need to be done.

Don’t assign jobs for the sake of making people work, but rather because accomplishing those things will help the company and everyone around. The more you can make people feel like part of a team and not just an insignificant laborer, the better you can expect their work to be.

■ Encourage productivity. I’ve got a post up on GoFarWithKovar.com that highlights different reasons for substandard productivity.

It might be that your workers just need a nudge in the right direction, or perhaps you could buy some software that would help streamline projects and make things run more smoothly. If everything feels tedious, people’s brains start to shut down and producing consistent, quality work becomes a near impossibility.

There are lots of simple steps and training methods that can help employees become more productive and happier with the work they’re doing.

Think about what you want from these workers and how you’re asking for it. You might decide you need to change your tactic, or there might be a better way to motivate them. As long as you’re thoughtful, fair, and not a crazy dictator, it should all work out. Good luck, Presley.


Taylor Kovar is CEO of Kovar Capital. Read more about him at GoFarWithKovar.com.

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