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Motivating employees in 5 easy steps 5 min read
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Want to hear a secret?

Us entrepreneurs — we hate being told what to do.

When asked “What made you start your company?” most founders will admit to anything from taking over the world, to making it a better place.

But in truth, one of the strongest motivators to embarking on your own independent way, is hating being told what to do.

Thing is, many people who can’t be entrepreneurs — for various reasons — don’t like being told what to do either.

Still, these people might be your employees or the people on your team, and you need to manage them somehow. You need to keep them motivated and to get them to reach goals.

So how do you do it without micromanaging them day in and day out, a method which sucks the happiness out of people and leaves you zero time to plan ahead?

We found it is actually pretty easy. Based on our experience at— working with hundreds of managers and thousands of employees, here are 5 easy steps to get employees motivated.

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1. Share the high level goals

Share the high level goals of the company with your entire team. This can be any major or long term project. Right now, for example, our goal is reaching 1024 paying customers by March. Sharing this information with everyone in the company, makes everyone feel on the inside of things. It makes employees feel they are not some soldiers preforming random tasks without knowing why. And it gives them a sense of purpose and urgency.

Golden advice:
Put the high level goals somewhere where everyone can view them. You can write them on a whiteboard, display them on a flat screen TV on your office wall or share them on a company-collaboration system.

Displaying high goals for everyone to see, encourages employees to ask themselves, how can I become a part of the company’s success?

2. Assign tangible tasks

When breaking down the high level goals into tasks, and assigning them to team members, make sure the list is not overwhelming. The list of tasks should be something an employee can definitely do. So while high-level goals can be long term, with due-dates that are even four months away, tasks should be for one week.

A week is a time frame that’s easy to grasp. It’s easy to evaluate what will fit into one week. It is also not intimidating. The most important thing about this list is: Don’t write down what you *want* to do next week, right down what you *will do* next week.

This is a game-changer when managing people, because it makes them feel that you are realistic in your expectations from them. And this gives them the chance to deliver on what they promised. Delivering on what they said they would do, is a gratifying experience. It is much better than the bitter taste of over-promising and under-delivering.

3. Create the list of tasks together

Just dumping a list of tasks on an employee is no good. Remember; many people don’t like being told what to do. Creating the list together though, will make the employee feel they have control over their daily work. It also means you, as their manager, will know what they’re up to. And of course, it gives you a chance to choose tasks that will move you closer to reaching your goals.

Golden advice:
You can let the employee suggest tasks, and help them prioritize them. Explain to the employee how a task helps reach the high level goals. This will make them feel they are really contributing to the company’s success. And indeed, they will be.

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4. Give recognition publicly

At our company, for example, whenever one of us completes a task, that helps the company reach its goals, we get recognition publicly. This is how it happens: Eran Zinman — our founder and CTO — announces it in front of everyone in our morning stand-up meeting. He’ll say, for example, “Yesterday, Sarah from Sales got 12 customers to upgrade their plan.” Then we all cheer Sarah’s achievement.

Getting recognition like that, in front of everyone else, feels very good. Sarah now knows that her efforts didn’t go unnoticed. She feels appreciated. She feels she’s part of the company’s success. And she also feels that everyone else knows what she’s doing and how valuable she is to the company.

5. Celebrate success

Success means reaching your goals. There are two important ways to celebrate success:

  • Don’t let completed tasks disappear. In most team management softwares, when a task is done, it disappears. This makes completing tasks feel endless and tedious. Instead, get tasks to change their status to Done. You can do it on a whiteboard, where you can cross tasks off, or write a big Done next to them. In our system — — when a task is completed, its status changes to DONE, which is always green. This is very cool, because when an entire project is completed, the entire Board on which it was managed “goes green”.
  • Party. Whenever you reach a high level goal, celebrate it with your team. It can be anything from opening a bottle of wine to bringing cupcakes to the office, to going out together for some good food and drinks (on the company’s expense of course).

And this is how you keep everyone motivated.  If you have more techniques you’d like to share, please leave a comment, we love learning new tricks.

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