Energy and motivation seem to flag this time of year as our focus shifts to seasonal office parties, social events, and family gatherings.
Some of us even have actual holidays booked or are fortunate enough to get some time off work. And all of these have a way of taking our mind off work.
But don't worry, the New Year is just around the corner, bringing with it a fresh start.
And if you're a smart manager, you can seize the opportunity.
Here are few tips on how to motivate employees and drive engagement in 2013.
Recognize that motivation is a personal responsibility
First and foremost, you need to recognize that motivation is a personal responsibility.
You can't control your employees' motivation. It's a skill that can and must be learned, however you as the manager cannot drive this. It's important for both you and your employees to know that.
However, you can provide tools and guidance to help them tap into their personal motivation.
Use an employee motivation survey to help employees understand what motivates them
Start by helping employees understand their primary motivators. Different people are motivated by different things, and our primary motivations can change over time.
The Anderson Leadership Group has a great Motivation Self-Assessment worksheet (PDF) anyone can use to help determine what their primary motivators are. It gets you to rate and rank your need for affiliation, autonomy, intellectual stimulation, power and security/comfort.
I encourage you to download this employee motivation survey and share it with your team. The results may offer some surprising insight on what motivates them.
It can also be helpful to reflect back on the jobs, work assignments or projects they found most stimulating or rewarding, the kinds of people they best love working with.
Conversely, employees can also consider the work or projects they found most frustrating, the kinds of people they find hardest to work with or the things they are most afraid of in life. The important thing is to understand "why". That information will help.
Engage your employees in a discussion about their primary motivators, and share what motivates you and why. Then ask them: "What can they do to increase their motivation at work?" And "Is there anything you can do to help?"
Involve employees in setting goals and development plans
We're typically far more motivated to complete assignments and learn new things when we've had a hand in setting those goals. So in 2013, abandon the old "parental" style of assigning goals and development plans to your employees and get them to set their own.
You should definitely be consulted, and need to agree to those goals and development plans to ensure their aligned with the organization's needs. But the responsibility for drafting them should be theirs.
On that note, take this accountability further and ensure employees understand their role in performance management in general.
Play on people's strengths
When considering goals, development plans and work assignments, try to play on your employees strengths. We're always more motivated to tackle things we're good at or passionate about. We all have "drudge work" we need to get done as part of our jobs; having a mix of work we're also enthused about helps keep us motivated.
Inject some fun into the workplace
And don't forget the importance of injecting some fun in the workday. Play a game, have a friendly chat, enjoy a laugh. One manager I know of has "fabulous shoe days" where employees (OK they're mostly women) are encouraged to wear their prettiest shoes and show them off.
While this example may not apply to you or your team, you get the idea. There are lots of ways you can have some fun at work.
Remember, motivation is a personal discipline
Ultimately, motivation is a personal discipline. Empower your employees to take responsibility for their own motivation and you'll all reap the benefits of a happier more successful workplace. For more information on how to motivate employees and drive engagement, read our Center of Excellence for Improving Employee Engagement.