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4 Powerful Ways to Motivate Your Local Government Staff

Regional Summit

A recent survey conducted in an ICMA Coaching webinar found that 71% of its participants wished they had a better understanding of how to motivate their employees. Here are four great tips and resources to lead your employees and to motivate them to achieve in the profession.

1. Motivate to innovate through engagement

In the book, The Elements of Great Managing, Rodd Wagner and James Harter explain that high performance can only happen by generating enthusiasm, uniting behind a common mission and goals. The evidence is clear; “money without meaning is not enough compensation.”  In order to build a high-performance organization, you need high-performing employees, and the authors suggest that can only be achieved through employee engagement.

If you want your organization to innovate, it starts at the top. Wagner and Harter describes 12 elements that all engaged employees have:  1) Clear work expectations; 2) Resources and materials available; 3) Opportunity to perform at a high-level; 4) Recognition and praise; 5) Empathy as people; 6) Development and encouragement; 7) Feedback sought and acted upon; 8) Organization’s mission connects to individual work 9) Organization committed to high-quality work; 10) Strong personal relationships; 11) Progress discussed; 12) Opportunities to grow and learn.

[Read more on how to motivate to innovate]

2. The role of leaders is to support the self-motivation of others

As a leader, you must explore how to tap into the individual and collective interests and motivations of your group. The best way to explore and identify the hopes and dreams of others is to ask questions  (See Career Compass No. 24: Asking Powerful Questions). Therefore, you may wish to begin by asking questions about how the unit can better meet the needs of children and families.

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3. Get to know your people

Unfortunately, managers are often reluctant to approach employees. We’re either worried about what they have to say, or we get too wrapped up in the hundreds of day-to-day issues that require our immediate attention. Stop procrastinating and have a chat with your staff. Establish an open door policy. Hold regular meetings to discuss workflow and office atmosphere (we do this once every three months). Finding out what makes staffers tick will go a long way when it comes to motivating them to excel.    

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4. Only the employee can motivate oneself

A leader cannot “motivate” anyone. Only the employee can motivate oneself. The leader can only support one’s motivation. As a supervisor, you want to provide resources, remove obstacles, support the efforts of staff, and recognize good work and achievement.

[Tips to engage employees for success]

Want to learn more on motivating your employees? Reserve the 2.5-hour mini skill-building workshop from icma university: Engagement, Motivation, and Leadership, and examine what we now know about what motivates people and develop a leadership plan to create the platform for engagement.

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