How to Push Employees to Do Their Best — Without Making Them Cry

5 min read
Sep 13, 2016

Performance management and motivating employeesNo matter the size of the business or the industry it’s in, today’s companies strive to be as productive as possible. But there’s a fine line between encouraging workers to take their game to the next level and saying something that completely demoralizes them — or even makes them cry.

The last thing any good manager should want to do is discourage their employees. With that in mind, here are 10 tactics that should help your employees reach new heights without viewing you as the enemy:

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Lead by Example

Nobody wants to work for someone who expects the world from them yet never appears to break a sweat themselves. If you want your employees to become better at what they do, you need to set the example and stick to it.

Don’t be the boss who comes in late and leaves early — spending the whole day schmoozing. Be the hardest worker, and your employees are likely to follow in your footsteps. They’ll know what kind of work ethic you expect — without you even saying anything.


Recognize Your Employees’ Achievements

According to our Engagement Report, not even one out of every three workers feels valued at their job. Instead of expecting your employees to work hard with no reward, recognize your employees’ achievements whenever it’s deserved. There are a number of different employee recognition tactics you can try, including giving out awards, thanking workers publicly, or bringing in snacks.


Promote Managers Internally

Whenever a new management position opens up, companies can either hire someone from the outside or promote someone from within their own ranks. By adopting a promote-from-within philosophy, you’re likely to see your employees start to try noticeably harder. Many of your workers will be interested in an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. The others will wish to remain on good terms with those who do.


Invest in Career Development Opportunities

Only 25% of employees feel as though adequate opportunities for career development are offered by their current employers, according to our Engagement Report. That’s despite the fact that a number of workers — and millennials particularly — are extremely interested in developing new skills.

Make career development a priority at your organization, and employees are likely to pick up some new skills that they will want to try out immediately. Altogether, this translates into a more effective team.

Career development opportunities


Plan Recurring Team-Building Activities

If you want your team to reach its full potential, every member on it needs to have the backs of the others. Creating an organizational culture of camaraderie can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. There are a number of team-building activities you can use to encourage your employees to get to know one another a little better. As bonds begin to form and your team strengthens, you should notice an uptick in productivity as workers help each other out whenever they can.


Provide the Best Incentive Packages

Who doesn’t love a delicious lunch that doesn’t cost a penny? Do your employees really need to go to the office every day, or is it OK if some of them work from home some of the time? While we’re at it, do they really need to work between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or is it OK if they choose to make their own schedules — so long as they get their work done?

Offering great incentive packages is a great way to attract top talent — and keep them motivated. Buy your team lunch and consider remote working and flexible schedules. You should see an uptick in productivity, as employees don’t want to lose great benefits after they’ve experienced what it’s like to have them.


Encourage Employees to Take Initiative

Working on the same kinds of projects over and over and over again can get a little boring, if not altogether disheartening. Make sure your employees know exactly what’s expected of them in their current roles. But also give them the opportunity to take initiative on their own and work on any pet projects they might have. Enabling your workers to try something different or create something new is a great way to reinvigorate your staff.

Pet projects at work


Equip Your Staff With Modern Technology

As our Engagement Report points out, nearly 70% of employees feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the workweek to get everything they’re responsible for done on time.

If you want to push your employees to do their best, you need to give them the tools and technologies they need to succeed. Using the right platforms and systems should help accelerate many processes, allowing your workers to reclaim a significant chunk of their workweeks. As a result, there will be more time in the week to tackle their workloads.


Solicit Employee Feedback on a Regular Basis

A lot of companies wait until the end of the year to check in with their employees and ask how they’re doing. But taking that approach isn’t exactly inspiring. What happens if a worker has a problem with something in March? Should they really wait until December to have an opportunity to let their boss know how they feel?

Instead of assessing employee’s thoughts once a year, you’d be much better off maintaining a regular conversation with them. Use pulsing surveys to stay on top of employee sentiment to ensure everyone’s on the same page. As an added bonus, you may be able to tap into some brilliant ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.


Institute an Open-Door Policy

Don’t make your employees feel as though you’re unapproachable. Prove to them that conversation flows both upriver and downriver at your organization. Keep the door of your office open always (within reason). Encourage your team to approach you with any ideas, concerns, or problems whenever they materialize. When conversations occur, take action quickly when it’s warranted. That way, your employees will feel more ownership of the company — which should translate into increased output.

It’s OK to expect a lot from your employees. But if you want them to reach their full potential, you’ll need to take the right approach.

So lead by example. Routinely thank your employees for their hard work. Give your workers the tools they need to do their jobs. Support your team however you can. That’s the recipe for a more productive workforce — one that’s still happy to show up to work each morning.



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