Do You Motivate Your Employees?

Let’s face it. You as an owner, or your manager, (assuming you have one) are the most important factors as to whether your employees like their jobs. You determine the mood of your team. No matter how hard we try, we make mistakes. Sometimes the things we think are important to our staff are really not. I recently read an article by Alison Green that outlined, “The Top 6 Ways Managers Demotivate Employees.” She made some excellent points. Read the following with an open mind. Are you guilty of any of those? If so, take some steps to change. It can only improve your operation.

Fuzzy Expectations – In a previous article, I suggested you set goals. Your goals must be clear and concise. Your employees have to understand your goals. If your employees don’t understand your goals, how can they meet them? As Alison Green says, “It’s hard to excel when you’re not even sure what you should be excelling in.”

Ruling By Fear – Do you manage with rigid control? Do you foster negativity? If this is you, you are probably worried that things will not get done the way you want them to get done. This is not the way to run your business. Your employees won’t come to you with problems and will not take risks. They certainly will not come to you with new ideas because they are afraid they will be shot down. If this is the way you operate, you will not keep strong employees. They will definitely leave at the first opportunity. And you cannot grow with this attitude.

Not Recognizing Good Work – You overhear your staff member at the counter handling a difficult customer. Or you hear a counterperson taking care of a customer and the customer laughs and leaves smiling. Your employee knows you overheard the exchanges, but you don’t say anything. They think you do not care! Put yourself in their place. If I make the extra effort, it does not pay off. Why should I continue to do it? I know. You are thinking…that’s your job. A little praise goes a long way. I am not suggesting that you praise every time. Then that looks phony.

Making Unreasonable Demands – Holding employees to a high standard is a good thing. Don’t demand that your employees do the truly impossible. For example, if the industry average for pressing pants is 40 pants per hour, don’t put a goal of 50 pants per hour for your presser. Pushing your idea could cause a drop in morale and productivity because your staff may feel they can never achieve it.

Delegating Without Truly Delgating – As owners, we will sometimes make someone a manager without truly giving them the authority to make decisions. In one of my jobs, I was made manager, but I soon found I was not allowed to make the important decisions that were expected of a manager. It was an awkward situation and I was never quite sure what I could or couldn’t do. It is important that you delegate and really delegate. You will never grow unless you let go of some of the reins.

Constantly Moving Goalposts – Once you set your goals, stick to them. I mentioned in a previous article, you should set short-term goals as well as long-term goals. Goals can change, but your short-term goals need to remain the same. If you constantly change goals, your employees “stop taking any of the work seriously, knowing from experience that there’s no point in giving it their all when the priorities will change soon anyway” states Alison Green.

Neglecting To Deal With Problems – This is probably the biggest reason your staff will become unmotivated. It is easy to avoid conflicts if you really want to. Are you or your manager shying away from addressing performance problems? Are you both afraid of offending someone? As these problems go unresolved, your staff will grow frustrated and lose motivation to work. I know this first hand. When I owned my cleaners, I let an employee stay on when I should not have. This affected my staff and they all came down to that inferior employee’s level. When I finally addressed the problem, there was a definite change in morale.

You have to constantly bring out the best in your employees. And you need to make sure you retain your best people. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “How can I make sure you stay the next two years?” And most importantly, listen to what they have to say.

About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at

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