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Written By: Carol Cochran

If one believes that productivity is a direct indicator of profitability and the overall success of a company, then it stands to reason that maintaining a happy and productive work environment is important. Whether you manage a small business or a large department within a corporate structure, creating a culture in which people are motivated and empowered to create the best work possible is something worth your time and energy.

People often give their best to a project when they feel that they are an important and valued part of the team. There are several ways to convey this message, but the important thing to remember is that it must be genuine.

Here are some ideas for motivating your team and keeping them happy.

Set clear expectations and goals.

People need to know exactly what the desired outcome is, and what their specific role is in achieving it. As the team develops and grows together, they can have some input on their own personal goals and the overall vision.

Reward good performance.

Showing your team that you appreciate their efforts does a lot to build goodwill. Letting people leave work early, buying lunch, or a financial bonus are just a few ideas to bring a smile to their faces. Keep in mind that a moment of individual recognition or a few sincere words often means more than material rewards.

Keep a casual environment.

While there should always be a professional tone, work can be casual and friendly. There are so many ways to create a relaxed workspace—everything from a comfortable seating area for break time to keeping the stress and negative energy to a minimum. If people are happy and excited to come to work, you’re already ahead of the game.

Get personal.

Not literally. Maintaining a sense of professionalism means that there are certain things you shouldn’t delve into with your team, but taking a genuine interest in who they are as people should be a no-brainer. Depending on the size of your team, you might have to keep some notes, but knowing about lives outside of the office—and sharing some of your life too!—creates a connection that often leads to loyalty.

Know their strengths and use them.

As you work with people and get to know them, you will discover where their strengths are. Often, you will also find some hidden talent that can not only benefit the project or organization, but also make the person feel more valuable. As people are able to contribute more, their sense of satisfaction will often increase—assuming, of course, that they aren’t being taken advantage of!

The Golden Rule is always a good guide, even in professional situations. Remember that the people on your team are just that….people! They will notice and appreciate your efforts to treat them with kindness and respect.

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