The six key elements of employee motivation and performance

Nurse Leader Insider, April 9, 2007

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As a nurse manager, part of your job is keeping employees motivated and working to the best of their abilities. This results in reduced turnover and higher patient satisfaction. Following are six key elements that make up the framework for employee motivation and performance:

Element #1: Purpose. The first task a manager or supervisor should undertake is to align the individual's purpose with that of the organization, says Dan Strakal, EdD, an expert speaker on workplace issues and president of Capable-Performance-Solutions, a consulting firm in Albuquerque, NM.

Element #2: Expectations. Communicating exactly what's expected of each employee improves motivation. "Clear expectations promote longer periods of sustained effort to achieving desired outcomes," Strakal says.

Take a few minutes to speak with employees one on one, he recommends. Ask the employee to share with you any barriers or challenges he or she faces on a daily basis.

Element #3: Competence. One way that effective managers build competence is to create opportunities for others to be challenged, to grow, and to develop their skills without causing employees to become overly frustrated, Strakal says.

Element #4: Feedback. "Effective feedback shapes performance, builds confidence, and encourages sustained effort," Strakal says. Managers can achieve effective feedback in several ways, such as:

  • Creating an atmosphere that encourages the free flow of performance feedback
  • Giving feedback that is specific, accurate, objective, and focused on behavior
  • Trying not to soften a message by mixing positive feedback with reprimands
  • Providing timely feedback immediately after desired behavior is demonstrated

Elements #5: Support. Respect is another important factor that affects employee motivation, says Jacqueline Coates, MA, practice administrator at Apple Hill Eye Center in York, PA. "With my former employer, we implemented a gazillion different promo ideas to motivate staff. They all worked for a brief period of time, then the newness would wear off and motivation would decline," she says. "Through a closer assessment of the programs, we learned that supervisors were the direct link to a weak or solid foundation to build motivation. If the relationship between the supervisor and staff was not a positive one, the motivational ideas and techniques were futile."

Element #6: Rewards. After a respectful relationship has been established, find out what incentives are most influential to your staff, Coates says. "Our ideas might seem grand, but may be less stimulating to staff. Seek out the informal leaders and get them involved."

Source: The Doctor's Office, HCPro, Inc., April 2007

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