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Tips for motivated and effective staff

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

My friend Bob Nelson, one of the world’s leading experts on employee recognition, offers several tips for keeping staff motivated.

Bob says many successful managers tell him that employee motivation is today’s key for improving staff productivity.  The reasons are that (1) most budgets are flat or declining, and (2) many departments have already gained major productivity increases from past investments in technology. 

As a result, managers are looking to lift productivity through the greater efforts of their staff. One manager described the challenge this way: “Our goal is to make ourselves better as a unit without spending more money in this recession.”

Here are 14 measures that you can take that will lift morale in your department.  You can do these things if you are manager or supervisor of your area. In general, these measures connect staff morale to department successes.  As a result, they return something to staff members who work better, faster and smarter.

  • Morale is the spirit your staff show as they work in your department.  When there is high morale, staff find continuing satisfaction at their jobs.

  • Managers must work hard to establish morale and then to maintain it within their departments. Leaders establish morale by helping their people find pride and self-esteem in the job.

  • Morale rises when managers personally thank staff for doing a good job.  Morale is highest when this recognition is given promptly, often, and sincerely.

  • Morale suffers if managers praise staff for doing a good job when the work is actually mediocre.  This dilutes the impact and meaning of earning recognition.

  • Morale is strong in departments when managers willingly take time to meet with employees and listen.  To staff, an open door policy means that their ideas for improving the department get a hearing.

  • Morale is strong when leaders provide specific feedback to employees about their own performance, as well as their role in contributing to the success of the department.

  • Morale is high when employees feel they will be rewarded for developing new ideas or showing initiative.  This shifts them away from the routine performance of their jobs.

  • Morale is strong when managers involve staff in decisions, especially the ones that affect their jobs and careers.  In the best case, this gives staffers the sense they can make themselves more effective and valuable.

  • Morale gets a lift if employees get the benefit of the doubt when mistakes occur.  This eliminates most pressure to hide problems and lest managers show they want to work with staff to help them do a good job.

  • Morale is strong if you have high expectations of your employees’ abilities. If you believe that your employees can be outstanding, soon they will believe it too.

  • Morale is high if you catch your employees doing things right.  This way to reinforce the behaviors your want.

  • Morale is high if managers use positive reinforcement.  This both increases the frequency of the desired behavior and creates good feelings within employees.  Negative reinforcement, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily produce the desired behavior, although it may decrease the frequency of the undesired behavior.

  • Morale is high when leaders make a big deal about the good little things.  Reason: Most jobs offer little opportunity for dazzling success.  Instead, most staffers must find success in work that is primarily made of routine daily activities, which is supposed to be performed without fanfare.

  • Morale is high when managers reward staffers for their small successes.  Remember: Praising progress toward a goal is as important as reaching an important goal which stretches the entire department.


Source: Bob Nelson newsletter,

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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