Published: 29/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5916 Page 29

Ruth Spellman offers advice on how to motivate your employees, ensuring they remain productive

Getting the most from employees is a key challenge facing employers in every sector.There are some simple steps that any manager can take to inspire the employees on whom they rely.

Remember that you set the tone Employees follow your lead.They analyse what you say and do and react accordingly. If you demonstrate energy and enthusiasm, It is likely to rub off on others around you.Do not underestimate the power of your own words and deeds.

Be clear about what you want Make sure that employees know what you need from them, that they understand the contribution you are expecting them to make.Keep lines of communication open so you can identify and address any emerging issues as quickly as possible.

Remember that employees are individuals Employees are not just employees; they have lives outside the workplace.Get to know them, learn a little about their lives, understand their circumstances and where they are coming from. If they need a little flexibility every now and then, help to make this happen.

They will appreciate your effort and it could boost loyalty and productivity.

Thank employees for their work Research frequently highlights the importance of praise for a job well done.This can be easily forgotten in the midst of a hectic day, but it is vital to continued effort and enthusiasm. It also helps people see any constructive criticism in context.

See the full context Motivation stems from many factors.Pay and benefits is obviously one, development opportunities (or lack of them) can be another.Assess what the issues are in your organisation, ask your employees for their view. If change is required, make it happen as quickly as possible.

Be consistent at all times Consistency in the way people are treated and managed is vital.Make sure, for instance, that everyone has clear goals and a clear development plan.Give everyone the same opportunity to raise questions, issues or concerns.These are all steps to develop a level playing field for all team members, no matter what their role or status.

Ruth Spellman is chief executive of Investors in People (UK).