Seven Ways to Get Your Unmotivated Workers Off Their Butts

Does it feel like it takes you less time to do something than if you were to give the job to an employee? Whether they're freelancers or full-time employees, slow-moving, uninspired workers are the bane of many small business's existence. 

How can you get workers fired up and motivated to achieve your company's goals? Here are seven tips:

1. Hire right.  Start down the road to motivated employees by hiring the right person for the right job. Too often, time-strapped entrepreneurs will hire a neighbor or acquaintance because they don't want to sift through a big stack of resumes. Instead, take the time to properly vet candidates. Then, hire someone who is qualified for the job and, more importantly, is a fit with your company's culture.

2. Offer clear goals. Do your workers know what their top priorities are, and what needs to be done by what deadline? Vagueness is a big motivation-killer.

3. Manage by walking around. The owner of a successful southern California regional hardware chain once shared with me that he constantly popped in at his various store locations, with no set schedule. Productivity stayed high, as workers never knew when he'd be back. "Workers do what you inspect," he explained to me. "Not what you expect."

4. Share your finances. I know several entrepreneurs who have an "open book" policy at their company, where they share revenue, expenses and other financial figures with workers. This transparency can be a big win -- workers feel they're privy to inside information, and they understand exactly how much business they need to get in the door for the company to grow. This makes profit-sharing programs really work, as employees know exactly what it takes to hit the profit point. Owners fear releasing this information, but as one owner of a cabinetry business recently discovered, sharing company financials including his own salary can be a positive step.

5. Do incentives right. Incentive programs can backfire if they are a way to entice workers to do something that makes them uncomfortable or that they feel is not achievable. Set realistic benchmarks and make sure they are relevant and enticing to your staff, or the program may just lead to more lethargy and inaction.

6. Build trust. Workers do things for leaders they believe in. To increase trust, admit your own mistakes, show empathy for workers' concerns, and be honest about how difficult it will be to meet your goals. Instead of making pronouncements, listen and involve workers in decisions.

7. Treat workers like people. Do you know your workers' personal aspirations? Tap into their personal desires, and you will be able to motivate them to excel.

How do you motivate your workers? Leave a comment and add your approach.

This article originally posted on


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