Simple tips on the art of motivating employees at work

Irrespective of whether he or she is a worker or a supervisor, every single employee longs to be recognized and rewarded. There are some who motivate themselves. However, most require stimulus from external sources. It is our duty to provide such a stimulus. Certain simple steps in this direction are discussed in some detail in this article.


The moment an employee enters the organization, he looks around to do a good and meaningful day's work. This is most relevant to the shop floor and in the offices too. Any lapse on the part of the supervisor or manager can prove very costly. The simplest tips in this direction are to a) Involve employees in day to day work b) Listen to employees consistently and communicate constantly c) Give the employees power and authority to make improvements d) Make the process very simple for everyone to understand and e) Involve employees in the documentation and spread of learning.

Involve employees in day to day work

The process of doing this is deceptively simple. Appoint a leader every fifteen days and give him the task of briefing you on any aspect of day to day operations. Keep on appointing new leaders as you go on. Get the employees to come up with simple suggestions. Encourage them to implement the same. Take the approval from Management to give simple rewards, once in a month. Many organizations give pens, purses, small jute bags and so on. These are real motivators. And make it a point to put the concerned employee's photograph on the department notice board and keep it for a week. Do this most regularly and delegate the process to the concerned group of subordinates itself. Just empower them. Get all to clap loudly and pat the employee on the back. Just observe the magic. This author was instrumental in making HR processes do exactly this in three different manufacturing organizations. The results are always the same. The concerned managers are highly respected by the workmen, who often voluntarily do most work.

Listen to employees consistently and communicate constantly

This is the most important thing to do. The most appropriate body language is to keep your ear firmly in place to listen to what the person says. Encourage the workmen to literally talk into your ears. This body language, done openly and in public has a magical effect in terms of making the employees feel that the manager is a "nice human being". The good old days of violent industrial relations, when such body language was never encouraged by any short-sighted management is gone forever. You can rest assured that this sort of body language can and work wonders today. Wise line managers literally do this every day. Their rapport with their workmen is superb. They never exhibit the "I know it all" attitude. Communication can improve both morale and motivation and the results will be very encouraging indeed. This is the secret of the most successful managers. It is not that Managers do not take decisions. The Management of shifts, getting Management approval for things that involve money and so on, are still done by managers. However, employees are always kept informed. When this happens the HR climate automatically improves. Today, there are training programs that teach managers the art of empathy and listening to their employees.

Give the employees power and authority to make improvements

This is another important step. In every TVS organization, there are small groups of workmen, who initiate and execute hundreds of what is called the Japanese word for Continuous Improvement. The workmen are encouraged to all the work. The group members are often encouraged to all work and their photographs are also displayed near the machinery. The improvements are carefully documented. In several organizations, the workmen are given small awards like ball pens, purses and so on. Such small gestures motivate the workmen so much, that they voluntarily extend their co-operation to any Management initiative at the workplace. it is very common to find workmen involved in Six Sigma initiatives in many organizations. This is possible, only because of the HR climate, so assiduously built in many organizations. Such HR climates do not happen in just one day. The effort takes as much as even three years. However, once the simple steps are taken, the major steps become much easier to get done.

The key is the power and authority given to workmen. This becomes a motivating factor and helps to keep the momentum going.

Make the process very simple for everyone to understand

The Standard Operating Procedures, very well documented and explained to all workmen, can and will help a great deal in making the work environments very good for meaningful motivation. The idea is to make things very simple. On top of these SOPs, with clear cut instructions on what has to be done, even by trainees, if the Kaizens take off in a big way, it leads to far better improvements. This is exactly the TVS way of life. The learning curve is very small and the resulting motivation at work is a given. In all manufacturing plants, the core ideas of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and Total Quality Management ( TQM) are very much in place and the foundation for a good motivational climate already exists. The spark for making it work far better comes from the Managers who are well trained to do what it takes to really involve workmen in all aspects of day to day work for very good results.

Involve employees in the documentation and spread of learning

Workmen are trained to input the data into the SAP System at TVS organizations. They are also trained to document learning on a day to day basis. Such meticulous documentation, combined with what is called the Plan, Do Check and Act ( PDCA) cycle, for every process, helps the capturing of data concerning any technical snag, very easy. This, in turn, makes it very simple for even trainees to understand. However, one needs to go the extra mile in the documentation. If the documentation aspect is neglected, the motivation to do a far better job is lost. The workmen will resign to their fate and not take initiative. It is often observed that the senor workmen themselves motivate the juniors to do a far better job.


Though the technicalities associated with several modern HR concepts is now far more advanced and difficult to fathom, common sense oriented approaches still work. More so, in manufacturing organizations, where the need to motivate workmen and other employees is real. It has to be done on an everyday basis. Certain basic steps have been explained in the aforesaid paragraphs. One can always innovate as he or she goes along. After all, learning is always a journey and not a destination.


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