10 Tips to Motivate Employees

motivate employees

Harvey Mackay once said,

“Determination + Goal-setting + Concentration = Success.”

Certainly one of the things that distinguish high-achieving operators from the pack is their ability to set and achieve goals.

While goals may exist in most organizations, there is a real art to setting them well — an art not enough business people practice.

Many set the marker unreachably high, which quickly leads to disappointment.

Others set it too low and are rewarded with sloppy standards.

If you want to be sure the goals you set — both for yourself and your employees — fire up motivation, increase determination and, most important of all, drive things forward in your company, there are 10 key things to keep in mind.

1. Keep it Clear

Nothing is more certain to demotivate you than being handed a vague, immeasurable objective. Giving either yourself or your team an indefinite aim is a great way to get an indefinite outcome. Consider what exactly it is you wish to accomplish.

Ask yourself what the ultimate successful result of this initiative is. Ensure it is clear in the minds of all relevant parties — this is where we are, this is where we want to be and, when we get there, we have achieved this goal.

When you have a concrete destination, you are more focused in your journey and less likely to be discouraged should things get rocky on the way.

2. Keep it Quantifiable

How will you know when your goal has been reached or surpassed? If all you have to measure against is a statement like “Be more productive,” then you will not.

Rather, you need to make your goal something measurable and quantifiable beyond any interpretation or argument, such as a number of products sold, a number of clients signed up or a number of employees hired.

3. Think “We Will” Not “We Should”

It is important to keep all inconclusiveness out of your goal setting. These are not things that you should be doing or should try to do. These are things you will do.

Similarly, don’t let shame be the motivator. i.e. “We haven’t been doing enough of this in the past.”

Always look optimistically to what you will achieve in the future. This kind of positive language and positive thinking means you set off in pursuit of your objective with confidence and clarity.

4. Make it Known

Do not hide your or your team’s goals in order to save blushes should they not be achieved. This will only lead to a less enthusiastic and confident frame of mind in their pursuit.

Rather, proudly proclaim that these are the things you will be achieving from the get-go.

5. Put a Deadline On It

Some business people will give their company a solid, clear, quantifiable goal but decide not to pressurise things by adding a deadline. You can guess what happens next.

The goal loses all urgency, becomes just another thing that the business will probably do “someday,” and, soon enough, is completely forgotten.

6. Reflect the Company’s Vision

If you are setting multiple goals, be sure they all serve your overall vision for your business. It’s easy to get bogged down in achievement for achievement’s sake.

Celebrating because you managed to pass a goal might give you a warm feeling, but if that goal did not service the overall objectives of your business, time and money have likely both been wasted.

7. Remember Readiness and Ability

When you are setting goals for employees, it is always tempting to push the marker sky high. As any good boss knows, workers tend to think they are only capable of so much. But when they’re motivated correctly, employees will deliver far, far above their assumed capacity.

However, giving your workers a target that they are not ready or able to reach will decrease your credibility. Keep things optimistic but realistic.

8. Break Big Goals Down

If you have a large goal with a deadline long into the future — say “Raise product sales by 15 percent by the end of the year” — it can quickly begin to feel unrelated to the work you do on a day-to-day basis.

In order to keep focus on your ultimate goal, break it down into things that can be achieved in a month, a week or even a day. As long as these mini-goals are being ticked off regularly, you are on track for the big one.

9. Review as You Go

Occasionally, what seemed a reasonable goal at the time it was set becomes less and less tangible as time goes by.

Don’t be too proud to admit you miscalculated and adjust if necessary. It doesn’t make you a bad leader, just a practical one.

10. Remember the Reward

When a goal has been reached by either yourself or your company, remember to mark the occasion. Whether it’s bonuses, promotions or just positive feedback, ensuring people get the recognition for achieving the tasks you set for them helps to keep them motivated for the goals you will set in the future.

Setting business goals can be a tricky skill to master. However, with the right combination of pragmatism, optimism, ambition and management, you can get it right.

Follow these 10 tips and be sure your goals keep your company motivated, productive and powering forward. Good luck.

(Photo by Steve Wilson / CC BY)

Popular search terms for this article:


Andy Hyland runs a small firm of accountants in Medway, Kent working with small business owners helping them with tax and business advisory services. Andy has a wife, two children, and two cats (but would prefer a dog). He hopes to live long enough to see England lift the Rugby World Cup once more. Follow Andy on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Ryan Biddulph on the 22nd April

    Hi Andy,

    #1 really sets everything into motion. Smart post! Getting clear helps you convey your message with ease. Back in my manager days I did my best to be super clear with my staff because my clarity was the key element of any message. If you’re clear you can avoid so many mistakes and delays.

    Tweeting from Bali.


Add a Comment