Seven Solid Tips for Creating a Motivating Environment
by Ian Cook

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A motivating environment promotes productivity, loyalty and even accountability—crucial employee traits in today’s business climate. Here are seven proven ideas from Ian Cook, CSP, that you can implement to improve your overall effectiveness as a manager in this area. For over twenty years, Ian, a speaker, trainer and facilitator, has been helping managers draw out the very best contributions their employees and teams can bring to the enterprise.

Tip #1: Clarify and share your vision for your department or unit.
Your people want to know that, under your leadership, you all are going somewhere. No matter now small your unit, what do you intend it to be like in two years' time? What will it be like working there? What quality and quantity of results will you be delivering to your customers or internal stakeholders? What will the benefit of this be, personally, for your staff?
Tip #2: Express your belief in the value of what your unit does.
Once you have established your vision and goals, continually communicate why they matter. Express your own belief and passion about the work. Why is it important? Who benefits from what we do? Who are we helping? Whose lives are improved through our products or services? To become truly engaged, your employees must have an intellectual and/or emotional attraction to their work and its significance.
Tip #3: Know what motivates each of your employees to work.
How can they be motivated if they don’t know what they want? Periodically engage your people, individually, in a conversation about what they want from their job, from their career. Sometimes they don’t know, themselves. Help them to identify their own motivators. Then, if you can help them get more of what they want, they will be more inclined to choose to perform well.
Tip #4: Recognize and acknowledge people’s contributions and strengths.
Research shows that focusing on your employees’ strengths yields greater performance than dwelling on their weaknesses. Draw particular attention to what they are good at and where they perform well in their job. People need to hear this from time to time. Express your appreciation for excellent work. Do this definitely one-on-one but also in public format.
Tip #5: Encourage–and support–the development of all who want it.
Most people–particularly knowledge workers and professionals–place a high value on their own development. Help them to learn and grow, even if it means that, ultimately, they have to leave in order to fulfill their potential. Put more investment into developing their current strengths, to make them even better, than in “fixing” their so-called “weaknesses.”
Tip #6: Hold everyone, including yourself, to high standards of performance.
What level of quality and quantity is enough? How well are we expected to treat one another…and our customers? As a manager/leader, you set the bar. Model high performance yourself, in your own work results and your behavior. Challenge others to give the best they have to offer. Celebrate excellent performance of others and take action, without delay, when someone’s performance falls off.
Tip #7: Foster open communication.
By welcoming contrary points of view by fully listening to them, you communicate that your unit is a place where where people can speak freely. They know it is OK to disagree with the boss, responsibly probe the reasoning behind decisions and offer ideas that don’t necessarily conform to “established wisdom.” Encourage dialogue, where people are expected to suspend their own arguments long enough to truly understand–but not necessarily agree with–other perspectives.

Benefits of a Motivating Environment

  • Employees who willingly contribute more of what they are capable
  • Higher overall performance results
  • Competitive advantage for your organization
  • Faster development of your staff’s potential
  • A workplace with positive attitudes, positive talk and positive expectations


Ian Cook, presenter and consultant, works with managers who want to increase their effectiveness as a leader and build a stronger team. To talk further with Ian about these approaches or to book him for a training seminar, team facilitation or keynote presentation, call toll-free at: 1-888-FULCRUM (385-2786) or e-mail. You can check out his company's website at www.888fulcrum.com.

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