The buzz of the new academic year gets us all motivated. The uncertainty of what to expect and the desire to get started gives us energy, but what happened to all the energy your staff had at the beginning of the year? What do you do now that the stress of academics and balance has set in? What can you do to reenergize the staff and keep that motivation high? As a supervisor, you can be a powerful force when it comes to motivation.
An integral part of motivation is team building. Staff training and staff bonding will help allow individuals on your staff to develop their competency, ideas, creativity, and support. These four things are what make up an individuals desire to succeed. Success is the driving force behind motivation.
Although motivation is developed internally, you can create an environment that encourages motivation. It involves inspiration, encouragement, support, growth and respect. It is about helping people see their potential and guiding them to get there.
Here are some basic things you can do to create an environment that fosters motivation:
• Say thank you.
• Give praise, appreciation, and recognition often.
• Develop a way for your staff to check in at each staff meeting. It could be called “lemons and limes times” something sweet and something sour that happened over the week. It helps your staff understand where each person is.
• Talk to your staff and make sure that you understand the issues they are dealing with. Make sure that you follow up with them by asking them about the situation. This could be something academically or personally, not just “job“ related. These things directly affect their performance and motivation.
• Ask your staff what they need from you. What are they not getting from you that would help them stay motivated and energetic? What are they getting too much of?
• Give your staff the opportunity to be directly involved with leadership on the staff. Let them run a staff meeting, or let them do a staff activity at a meeting. Allow each of them to be a direct leader amongst their peers.
• Give sufficient instructions and training. Training should be continuous. Try to do some sort of training opportunity off-campus. This could include a conference at another school or it could be a reenergize party in the playroom at McDonalds.
• Give the staff an opportunity to relate positive things to each other, about each other. A “happy grams” box in the back of the office allows staff to relate what someone else has done. They are then read aloud at each staff meeting.
• Ask your staff how they would deal with certain issues. You may actually find a new and better approach to something. It will also help the staff see that you want and need feedback.
• When they are frustrated or down, help them see the progress they have made. This could be a good time to tell them what positive influences they bring to the staff.
• Give the real reasons for decisions or problems that have occurred. Be honest and straightforward. This will help staff see that you are a team player.
• Give motivational boosts. It could be a Crunch bar during finals week saying “hang in there during crunch time“. A roll of Charmin toilet paper saying they deserve a “big squeeze for doing a great program“. A drink pouch of Tang that says, “Tangs for all you do”. Kids sunglasses that say, “You helped me clearly see the issue at hand”. Utilize your creativity not your money.
• Invite them to your house for dinner. Cook with them or cook for them. It is the personal time you are giving them that makes the difference.
• Do a program for your staff. It helps you understand the dilemmas they are facing and it reenergizes them to program. It also helps reinforce that you are not asking them to do something you are not willing to do.
• Give them feedback on how they are doing. For every constructive criticism comment, there should be a minimum of two positive things to say. If you are only noticing negative things, maybe you need to readdress what you are looking for. (When talking to the staff always start with what they are doing positively and then lead into constructive suggestions.)
• Deal with things promptly (never publicly) and then let them go. Remembering that a staff person was late to the first meeting, directly affects how you continue to work with that staff person and the rest of the staff. How you deal with this, will also affect how the rest of the staff deals with an issue.
• We all make mistakes. It is what we learn from them, that solidifies our foundation for growth.
• They are students first. Remind yourself and remind them. They are there for an education. Helping them find balance between academics and being on staff will help them stay motivated.
There are many things that affect motivation. However, creating an environment that brings it out is simple. It takes creativity and desire from you. It does not have to be elaborate. There just needs to be the opportunity for growth. People want to belong to a staff that challenges them, yet, cares, and believes in them. If you can incorporate these things into your staff, you will have high motivation and a positive working environment.
Submitted by Denise Cater, University of Northern Iowa