When I sat down to list a few ways to create a positive workplace that motivates employees to perform their best, I ended up with forty-nine items! Ten of them are below. Some practices can be implemented immediately, with little or no cost; others will take some time and effort.

Note: these items represent things you should be doing on an on-going basis. They are not one-time fixes meant to help you dodge the EFCA "bullet;" rather, they represent a long-term way of interacting with employees. Short-term "solutions" for long-term issues are seldom effective, and workers can tell the difference.

  1. Assess your employees' level of satisfaction with their supervisors. For example, consider issues such as whether the supervisor listens to what they say, and how he/she treats employees when they make mistakes. Take immediate action to correct any deficiencies.
  2. Ensure that every employee sees the organization's "big picture" AND his/her contribution to it. Employees who feel connected to the organization have a vested interest in its success.
  3. Learn employees' names and use them often. As a corollary, learn a little about their families and outside interests. Ask them about things that are important to them personally on a regular basis. And be genuine when you ask; people know when you are being disingenuous.
  4. Recognize employees' contributions to the organization in ways that are meaningful to the individuals involved. Research shows that the most effective forms of recognition are those that create memories for workers and their families.
  5. Ensure that employees view organizational procedures and decision-making processes as fair. For more information and specific suggestions about how to do that, please see our March, 2009 Alignment Solutions newsletter.
  6. Ensure that values such as trust and respect are a core part of your organization's culture. This outcome arises when each employee knows what those values "look like" in terms of his/her behaviors on the job AND when leaders exemplify those values every day.
  7. Provide employees with a meaningful voice. For additional information on the critical nature of ensuring voice in the workplace, take a look at this month's Research News You Can Use article.
  8. Incorporate appreciative approaches in the workplace. Seek out things that people do well, and build on those strengths. Ask questions that have them searching for positive answers instead of negative ones. For more information on the value of appreciative language and a list of appreciative questions you can use in the workplace, see our February, 2009 Alignment Solutions newsletter. For an in-depth understanding of the value of appreciative inquiry, request our Special Report on that topic.
  9. Ensure that employees are in the right jobs - i.e., that their talents are appropriate for the work they must do. Nothing is more miserable than doing a job for which you are not a good fit.
  10. Make it every manager's goal to help their employees become fully successful.

Congratulations to those of you who already engage in all or most of the above actions! Contact me for additional suggestions, or to report what's worked well for you.

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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