So what works and what doesn’t when it comes to motivating your team? Here’s their seven best tips for getting the most out of your workers.
1. Catch up regularly
For Mike Frizell, founder of Pet Circle, the key to getting the most out of his employees is regular catch-ups, whether formally or informally. “We believe that it is important to recognise achievements of individuals and the company on a regular basis,” Frizell says.
“Our full body of staff meets on a monthly basis. Big wins are shared with the team, various departments provide updates on what they’re working on … It helps unify the team and align their goals. It also helps each member feel a part of a bigger collective.”
Capi Sparkling founder Wolfgang ‘Pitzy’ Folk also makes an effort to regularly share a meal with his staff, providing them with breakfast each morning and joining them for lunch each Thursday.
2. Give them experience
At online retailer HardToFind, co-founder Erica Stewart says her tip for motivating employees is to give them the chance to learn. “We’re a small team, so everyone gets involved in parts of the business that they don’t necessarily have experience in,” Stewart says.
“This means the team are constantly learning new things, which keep them interested and engaged.” The approach has paid off for HardToFind, with a number of employees moving into new roles within the business based on the new skills they’ve picked up.
3. Allow them to ‘own’ something
Many small to medium sized businesses spruik the benefits of allowing employees to feel a sense of ownership of their work and it’s an approach GMG Search Engine Optimisation has incorporated into its management style.
“We employ what is known as holacracy or a flat management system,” explains co-founder Nick Grinberg.
“This means that there isn’t any hierarchy or micromanagement internally. We want our staff to feel empowered to make their own decisions and thus be accountable for them,” Grinberg says.
4. Keep them in the loop
Don’t underestimate the power of sharing information with your staff, says Ventis HQ co-founder Blair Milnes. “Have them understand the impact they have on the business, good or bad,” says Milnes.
“Share with them non-sensitive information as to what their contribution means to the attainment of the company vision [and] provide guidance and opportunity for autonomy.”
“Not all will rise to the occasion but the good ones will just thrive and get better.”
5. Make sure they have what they need to get their work done
You will get more out of your employees if you provide them with the right equipment and facilities, says Punters.com.au founder Luc Pettett.
“I’m a big believer in giving staff absolutely everything they need to do their job: iPads, the best iMacs, extra monitors, a comfortable chair, great coffee,” Pettett says. “We don’t see any point in hiring a new employee and then slowing them down with budget limitations.”
“If you’re willing to hire a staff member, you’re willing to give them everything they need to become a star employee. This might even include the occasional trip to Melbourne for a conference or free lunches – whatever it takes to help them along.”
6. Trust them
OzTrampolines founder Richard Haby believes he gets the most out of his team by not watching their every move. “I feel the best way to motivate staff is to allow them to do their role and not look over their shoulder all the time,” Haby says.
“We have a small number of staff and they all know their role. If they need me I am there in person or on the phone, but otherwise I do not interfere in what they do and back them to make the right decisions.”
7. Have fun
Whether it’s Friday night drinks at Pet Circle or downloading everyone’s favourite songs to the office iPod at HardToFind, lightening the mood can be a great way to de-stress in the workplace.
“No matter what is going on within the company or level of individual workload, we break to celebrate the week and enjoy each other’s company,” says Frizell. And then there are the companies like the Fonebox Group, for which fun is just part of doing business.
“In Brisbane we took on a lot more office space and built a semi Google-type space,” says co-founder Jordan Grives, who also happily forks out for catered meals, social activities and even access to pay TV for his staff.