“Employees cannot be battered into producing more. They have to be persuaded. That persuasion can be forceful and urgent. But it will also have to make sense. So managers need to be able to tell a convincing story about the future.”
In addition to casting a vision for the future, you also need to clearly and frequently communicate with employees on how they can help you achieve that vision. Doing so not only aligns employees and their efforts with your objectives, it also boosts their productivity.
In an article on motivating employees at Knowledge@Wharton, management professor Adam Grant says of his recent research on the topic:
“Employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.”
All employees want is to know that what they do matters, that THEY matter. And they want to be told that personally. Overcoming the barriers to interpersonal relationships created by our highly technological workforce is a challenge, as noted by Mr. Grant. This IS where strategic employee recognition plays a fundamental role by encouraging frequent, personal acknowledgment and appreciation of employee effort in a highly specific and meaningful way. This goes beyond a simple, "Thanks. Great work." to say instead: "Joe, I really appreciate the way you tackled XYZ problem. Not only did you help me get my job done more easily, but you demonstrated true integrity in how you handled a tricky situation and in the process contributed to us achieving our 25% customer satisfaction improvement goal."
Now that kind of personal, specific, meaningful recognition can powerfully impact the entire culture of an organization.