Q. Can I refer an employee to BJC EAP to gain more confidence in skills and abilities? One of my employees has the skills, but confidence and negative self-talk is a problem. I could give the employee motivational improvement literature, but is that getting too involved?
A. Coaching employees and helping them boost self-confidence is appropriate for supervisors. Motivational literature can be effective in assisting anyone to aspire to greater things, so there is no harm in providing it. But what if it doesn’t work or have much of an impact? Then it may be time to go a bit further and recommend BJC EAP. Before making a referral, however, talk with BJC EAP. Your discussion will probably lead to other techniques within the scope of your role that could help your employee overcome the negative pattern. Don’t head down the path of having private counseling sessions to explore the nuances of your employee’s problems. If your employee doesn’t change, and negativity seems chronic and disruptive, consider the idea of a formal supervisor referral to BJC EAP.
Q. How do I find out what motivates my employees? Most of them would say “money,” but that’s off the table. I wonder if my employees even know what inspires them. Are there any motivational strategies commonly overlooked by supervisors?
A. There are hundreds of nonmonetary strategies for motivating employees. However, it is hard to tell which strategy will work for which employee. Simply spending time with your employees is one way to gather an impression of what inspires them, and of course you should also ask them. One link to motivation many supervisors overlook is information. A lack of knowledge about a task or job function often results in a lack of motivation to consider attempting it. So don’t overlook the obvious. Some experts argue that you can’t motivate employees and that they can only motivate themselves. This is only partly true. Don’t overlook a balanced approach of positive and negative reinforcement when it comes to motivation strategies. You will more likely match the needs of more employees. Why? You have two types of employees: Employee “A” pays a bill on time to avoid the possibility of a late fee, while employee “B” is desirous of positive feelings associated with keeping the desk clear of unpaid bills. Both drop the payment in the mailbox at the same time!
Q. I am a new supervisor and see a lot of low energy among employees in my work group. There’s no excitement or enthusiasm for what they do. Something is not right, but no one is talking. How do I find out what’s wrong?
A. Meet with each employee in a private meeting and ask how things are going. It’s the most direct route to discovery. Avoid observing the group, teambuilding or holding gripe sessions to “get it all out on the table.” Don’t be mysterious about your intentions. Conduct a few each day until you see everyone. Be up-front and say you want to greet everyone individually and learn confidentially about important issues. Ask employees to bring proposed solutions, not just issues. You may notice employees perk up immediately. This results from employees telling their stories and feeling hopeful. Be cautious; this won’t last unless you take action. Formulate a plan from what you learn to address issues. Ask management to give input and approval. Don’t forget about BJC EAP. It can serve as a great sounding board and offer insights because of its unique role as an observer of organizational process.