Seven Ways to Achieve Greater Performance from Employees

It's the question that's on every business owner's mind: How can I motivate my employees to contribute their best work? The answer is to create an environment in which employees are motivated to succeed and to reward them for their success. The California Society of CPAs ( provides the following suggestions for enhancing employee performance and productivity.

Keep employees informed

Employees feel motivated when they understand how their work contributes to the organization as a whole. Letting employees know what is going on in the organization and industry helps fulfill this goal. Make every effort to keep your employees aware of sales forecasts and returns, earnings, new products and projects, competitive information, management changes, and emerging opportunities and challenges. Share the big picture. Demonstrate an alignment between personal and organizational goals.

Lead by example

Modeling the behavior you want from your employees is the most effective way to change behavior. If you want employees to demonstrate enthusiasm, be passionate about your job. If you want to encourage teamwork, be visible on teams. If you want employees to limit their lunch break to one hour, do the same.

Give workers control 

Having input into how the job gets done is inspiring. Employees tend to be more creative and committed when they are given the freedom to make at least some decisions as to how the work should be done. Set high standards and give clear goals but let employees decide how to reach those goals. The more responsibility and decision-making latitude you allow employees, the more ownership and interest they will have. Accept the fact that they may make some mistakes. This is a normal part of the learning process.

Give them feedback

Employees need to know how they are performing. Nothing is worse than coming to work day after day and not having a sense of whether or not you're doing a good job. Hearing about your performance just once a year at appraisal time isn't much better. Engage in regular goal and performance discussions with each employee. 

Performance feedback helps people build on their strengths and resolve problems. Remember to praise in public, correct in private. If you are giving criticism, do it on a timely basis and use specific terms for improvement.

Celebrate achievements

Studies have shown that recognition and appreciation can energize employees more than money does. Publicize achievements on a regular basis and tailor your reward system to specific accomplishments. If you have one employee that sells 25 percent more than everyone else and you give that employee the same bonus as others, he or she isn't going to be particularly motivated to excel in the future.

Provide developmental opportunities

People like to learn. Discovering new and better ways to do things can ignite an employee's desire to perform. You can be a catalyst, one who sets the atmosphere that will encourage people to develop themselves. The company's willingness to provide educational opportunities and pay for employees to attend technical or other professional education classes sends the message that the company truly values its employees.

Create an atmosphere of open communication

Talking to the boss is a great motivator. Give individuals the opportunity to voice their questions and concerns. To be sure, people are comfortable coming to you; always treat what they say with respect, consistency and dependability.
Sustaining an environment where employees can motivate themselves is an ongoing process. When people feel appreciated, acknowledged and respected, they'll give more of their time, effort, and commitment in return. Your job is to make that happen.