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  • Writer's pictureBob Hornsberger

7 Steps to Leading and Motivating Employees

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

An important role of a leader in the contemporary workplace is to influence, motivate and encourage employees so that the results expected can be achieved. This requires the leader to focus on both the work that needs to be done and the people who do the work.

In his book How to Get the Best Out of People Donald H. Weiss defines motivation as “Creating an environment in which people feel good about themselves and each other and feel confident that they can meet their own needs while making a contribution to the team and organization.” The leader must foster an environment within their team where employees can learn, grow and develop, and are able to see how their effort contributes to the organization's goals.

When employees are motivated they feel engaged, and an engaged employee is more likely to release greater discretionary effort in doing their work. This means they are more apt to ‘go the extra mile’ for the team and organization in meeting client/customer needs.

The question is can a leader truly motivate an employee? The answer to this question is found in the writings of Stephen Covey and his international bestseller The 7-Habits of Highly Effective People. In his book Dr. Covey speaks about how every person has choice or free will. First Nations refer to this as volition. So, as a leader I can encourage and invite motivation of another person, but that person has a choice whether or not they will be motivated.

So, given the above what are some practical steps leaders can take to invite their team members to be motivated?

7 Steps to Leading and Motivating Employees

Step 1. Find Out What Motivates You in Your Job

Remember, people don’t hear what we say so much as they see what we do. Being an effective leader requires a clear understanding of what motivates you. If you are lacking motivation within yourself, how can you begin to create conditions for your team members to be motivated and empowered? Motivation of others begins with you!

There are three things that motivate people:

  1. The need for achievement

  2. The need for affiliation

  3. The need for power

So, what are your motivational drivers? Remember as leader you must model the way! Write down the motivational factors that sustain you and what you can do to sustain them.

Step 2. Get to Know Your People

Sit down with each of your team members and discuss what their motivational drivers are in their current job. This is fundamental. In order to support the motivation of employees you need to understand what motivates them. Keep a list of the 3-5 things that motivate each of your employees.

Step 3. Delegate

Careful here! Delegate with purpose so that what you are delegating feeds into the motivational needs of the employee. Delegating to ‘dump’ is de-motivating.

Step 4. Keep Employees in the Loop

This can be accomplished in weekly one-on-one meetings with each employee or taking time at regular team meeting to communicate important information to the team. Remember, in the absence of information people will fill the gap with assumption and innuendo. This feeds into office gossip. Very unhealthy!

Step 5. Involve Your Employees

Involving employees in decisions that affect their work is critical. Changing work processes or polices that have a direct impact on employees work and having that done in isolation of employees input will set up a sabotage mindset by employees. That is, they will find a way to go around that which is being asked, if possible.

Step 6. Creating a ‘Line of Sight’

Consistently communicate how your employees work contributes to the organization's results. This provides employees with a ‘line of sight’ showing them that what they do each day makes a positive difference.

Step 7. Provide Employee Feedback

People like to know how they're doing in their job. Conduct regular performance feedback sessions highlighting the things you appreciate about an employee's work as well as some things that require some development on their part. When you see an employee progressing in their development remember to reward it.

About Bob Hornsberger

Bob Hornsberger has more than 40 years of experience in helping organizations change through thoughtful planning, as well as design and delivery of learning programs to assist management and employees in gaining the skills and competencies required to meet the organization’s goals.

Bob has facilitated a wide variety of learning programs and planning processes with a cross section of clients. He is an advocate of lifelong learning, personal growth and healing. Bob also believes strongly in the ability for individuals to find solutions to their own problems.

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