Motivating Long-Term Employees: 10 Tips for Managers

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management,Team Building

This is a reworked article from one that ran in HRS, Memo to Mgrs, Feb. 08 -- this reworked version was promoted as first article in HR Weekley e-letter on Sept. 2, 2008.

When a long-term employee seems to be stuck in a rut or simply coasting, a few moves by the employee's supervisor can help shake out the cobwebs and rekindle the employee's fire . Here are 10 simple tips for managers:

1. Turn employees into mentors.
Long-term workers can serve as great trainers for new employees. Set up a formal mentor program, or have them help in developing new-employee training sessions.

2. Coach them up.
Don't assume employees know it all because they've been there so long. Use training, workshops or refresher courses to stimulate longtime workers and expose them to new methods or ideas.

3. Add to the job.
Consider increasing the employee’s responsibilities (and challenge) if the job has become too routine.

4. Time for a transfer? A new setting and responsibilities—even a lateral move—may provide fresh energy to their productivity.

5. Open your door.
Let longtime employees know you are free to listen to them about day-to-day issues as well as their big-picture roles in the organization.

6. Show the job’s purpose. Longtime employees feel committed to their work when they believe their jobs—no matter how small—are essential to the organization’s success. Make it clear that there’s a purpose to their work and you value their contributions.

7. Allow job flexibility, when possible. Employees feel more engaged when they’re allowed more control over the way they perform their jobs. By allowing freedom, you demonstrate your trust in them.

8. ASK what they need. Don’t be a mind reader. Approach long-termers to find out what they need to keep their jobs challenging and interesting.

9. Assign partners strategically. When pairing up employees for projects, choose someone who complements the long-termer well (i.e., lots of experience in a skill that the long-termer is short on).

10. Demonstrate your interest in the past. If you take seriously the company history and “the way things used to be,” you’ll gain the employee’s respect and others will follow. 

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