5 Unconventional Ways Leaders Can Motivate Employees

5 Unconventional Ways Leaders Can Motivate Employees

John Eades 20/01/2019 6

I am fortunate to have an amazing and motivated team. It takes a lot more than staying late, working weekends, or taking on an industrious project to faze them. But even highly motivated people need an extra boost of motivation on an on-going basis. One of the challenging parts of a leading team is being aware enough to determine precisely when that boost is necessary.

The key is being proactive. Turn off the distractions (here is one idea, Why All Leaders Should Delete Facebook) and get closer to the work environment (Get out from behind the desk). Once the distractions are out of the way, it's easier to realize when to pull the right levers. Then you can focus on increasing motivation levels in order to produce optimal results.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing- that’s why we recommend it daily.

Zig Ziglar

Motivation by its very nature doesn’t last forever. Everyday I try to do something non-traditional to create either a long or short-term motivation depending on the needs of team. Some ideas work and some don’t. I’ll let you benefit from what I've learned by providing 5 of the most unconventional ways I've motivated my team, that actually worked.

Buy New Technology

Honestly, who doesn’t like new toys? Like a kid with a new bike on Christmas morning, chomping at the bit to ride it in the snow; it creates excitement. For my team, it was a new Canon 70D Camera to help us create more engaging microlearning. The team was so giddy; they couldn't wait for it to arrive. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should allow your team a chance to do their jobs better or reframe their thinking.

Invest in Their Development 

If an employee shows interest in something outside of their current role, invest in them. We have a team member who saw an opportunity to help us as a front-end developer. So, we are supporting him by making a small monthly financial investment and setting aside time for him to develop his new skill. You could invest in our new Getting Leadership Ready program, a Lynda.com license, or a ticket to an industry conference such as Salesforce.com Dreamforce. Ultimately, by doing this you will have a happy employee who sees their leader as someone who empowers them to live up to their full potential.

Impromptu out of the Office Lunches

How much would you like if someone came and told you to drop everything at 11:45 for a surprise lunch at The Palm, Ruth's Chris, or Maggiano's? I wouldn’t recommend this motivation tactic if you have a big afternoon workload. Your team ends up wanting to have a George Costanza nap underneath their desk for an hour to two after, but it provided tremendous long-term motivation. It was something they cherished and works hard in hopes that we do it again.

Give Ownership of the Company

In his book, Above the Line, Urban Meyer compares renting vs. owning a home and how as a home owner he was naturally more motivated to take better care of his house. It’s a great example of why all employees should have ownership in the company for which they are working so hard. Even if it’s a really small amount, providing ownership might be the most powerful way to motivate anyone. If giving ownership isn’t an option for you and your team, find a similar way to provide empowerment. Allow them to make the next hire, lead the next project, or make a purchasing decision.  

Write Them Thank You Notes

One of my favorite leaders used to write hand written thank-you notes to every employee on their work anniversary. I thought it was a brilliant way to motivate; showing personal appreciation for the work and commitment each employee made for the last 365 days. Try writing your individual team members when you see motivation levels drop; a thoughtful note from you may be just what is needed to turn things around.

These unconventional methods worked to motivate my team, and hopefully will provide you with some new ideas to try. If you have your own innovative approaches to inspire, let us know and provide your ideas in the comments section below.

John Eades is the President and CEO of LearnLoft. He is passionate about the development of people. He writes and speaks about leadership and modern learning techniques.

Getting Leadership Ready: LearnLoft's out of the box training approach to helping organizations develop their young professionals to be better and more proactive leaders. Find out more here.

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  • Alex McCormack

    Brillant read

  • Simon Wimpenny

    Great points about nurturing the individual in order to bring out excellence!

  • Kenneth Belton

    Captivating piece

  • Adam Bunting

    I hate when there is awkward silence during meetings after you decide to open up and talk.

  • Jacob Castle

    This article wasn't a waste of my time. Thanks that was insightful.

  • Mark Thomas

    Thank you vey much. I totally agree with you.

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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