Lessons on How to Motivate Your Employees

Keeping “ideas people” inspired may require ingenuity on the part of their supervisors, a new survey suggests. When asked to name their biggest management challenge, nearly one-third (30%) of executives polled cited motivating employees. Finding qualified staff came in a close second, with 28% of the response.

The survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service that provides marketing, advertising, creative and web professionals on a project basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and included 250 responses — 125 from advertising executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 from senior marketing executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

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Advertising and marketing executives were asked: “What is the greatest challenge you face in managing your team?” Their responses were:

  • 30% Motivating staff
  • 28% Recruiting qualified staff
  • 14% Training staff
  • 11% Retaining staff
  • 7% Resolving staff conflicts
  • 7% Other
  • 3% None/don’t know

“Motivating and recruiting staff are two closely related tasks,” says Dave Willmer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Managers who hire top-notch talent may find these professionals are naturally enthusiastic on the job and don’t require frequent coaching.”

Yet even the most self-motivated professionals need to be encouraged and rewarded from time to time. Willmer noted that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for keeping staff engaged.

“The best managers are well attuned to their employees’ work styles and tailor their motivational strategies to the individual,” he said.

Following are four common personality types and ideas for keeping them inspired:

Steady Sam…

…consistently delivers results but outwardly doesn’t show a lot of ambition. Sam thrives on routine and rarely takes on assignments that fall outside his or her typical job duties.

MOTIVATION STRATEGY: Because this person prefers stability over change, give plenty of notice about deadlines and help to prioritize tasks when new projects arise. Sam avoids the spotlight, so share compliments in person rather than before a crowd.

Assertive Ashley…

…thrives on competition and has an eye on the corner office. This person values status and will work hard for promotions.

MOTIVATION STRATEGY: Since Ashley works in a win/lose world, competitive terms like “outsmart” and “surpass” will inspire action. Let Ashley know how to get to the next rung of the career ladder, and provide her with high-profile, challenging projects.

Personable Pat…

…is warm, gregarious and friendly. Cultivating positive professional relationships and seeking approval from coworkers are priorities.

MOTIVATION STRATEGY: Work is a social occasion for Pat. Capitalize on this person’s friendly disposition by letting him or her organize team-building activities. Because Pat aims to please, offer meaningful praise, and always pass along kudos from clients or team members.

Artistic Alex…

…thrives on producing quality work and leans toward perfectionism. Alex tends to value interesting assignments over prestigious job titles and compensation.

MOTIVATION STRATEGY: Provide Alex with projects that require creativity and an eye for detail. Enter Alex‘s work in industry competitions and give him or her time to fine-tune assignments.

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