Information Station

A collection of wealth improvement articles


How to motivate and evaluate employees
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2015
Motivating employees

Motivate employees to excel

A motivated staff is a productive staff, and without incentives, your best people could leave for more satisfying endeavors. Pay and benefits are important, but they're only the beginning.

To retain your best people, do the following:

  • Establish reasonable, objective work standards, and base rewards and promotions on those standards.
  • Communicate your standards clearly, and provide whatever training is needed. Then give your employees the leeway to do their jobs. Focus on results, and let your staff determine the process.
  • Avoid showing favoritism, particularly if your employees include family or friends.
  • Encourage your people to offer input about work issues. If their suggestions result in significant improvements, reward them with bonuses or other incentives.

Improve employee evaluation

The annual employee performance review - usually it's dreaded by both supervisor and employee. The employee knows he'll have to hear about those mistakes from months ago, and the supervisor will finally have to discuss those issues he's been avoiding all year. Too often, the result is discomfort and embarrassment all around. Usually both parties fudge a little and are glad that it's over for another year. Too bad, because another chance for open communication and feedback has been lost.

To improve the process, consider holding performance appraisals more frequently, perhaps even quarterly. This can help make the appraisal less of a "special event" and more of a routine exchange of information. It also means your feedback is more directly related to your employee's recent performance, rather than coming months later.

Of course, even quarterly appraisals don't substitute for immediate feedback. If an employee does something wrong, or something good, tell him or her immediately. Point out the problem, make sure the employee acknowledges it, and make clear what you expect in the future. And if it's something good, the employee will appreciate receiving a pat on the back. With immediate feedback, there should never be any surprises at an appraisal.

At the end of every appraisal, summarize the discussion and put the highlights in writing. Make sure your employee gets a copy. Before the next appraisal, ask your employee to review the copy and prepare his thoughts on his most recent performance. Ask him to present his opinions to start the discussion. If there are areas needing improvement, agree on an action plan and put that in writing too. And that might be a two-way street. It could involve your providing training or taking actions to support the employee, so make sure you're living up to the agreement.

Don't limit the appraisal to a scorecard on the employee's achievements. If appropriate, use it to discuss career planning, cross-training, or job enrichment. Solicit ideas from the employee. It can all help turn a judgmental meeting into a constructive exchange of ideas.