In start-up culture, things move fast, and you depend on your employees to pull through and get big projects done on short timelines. But after logging a few long days and working hard, your employees can start to lose their juice. We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council—an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs—a simple yet interesting question: How do you keep your employees motivated when there’s a big project or deadline? Their answers may surprise you.
1. Hire Self-Motivated Employees
Those who you hire should be able to have a deep-seated yearning to accomplish what is necessary to meet the deadline. That being said, everyone needs motivation sometimes, and simple things like “good job” can really go a long way. Furthermore, encouraging breaks is a good thing to make sure they are on their “A-game” the whole time they are working.
- Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper
2. Create Smaller Goals
I help my team stay motivated by dividing up projects into smaller tasks and creating multiple deadlines. This way, the project is more manageable to complete, and my team won’t feel as overwhelmed when the deadline approaches.
- Heather Huhman, Come Recommended
3. Be There for Them
Instead of jumping in and solving their challenges, just be there and support them both physically (stay late with them) and mentally (positive attitude).
- Ming Chan, The1stMovement
4. Use Leaderboards
The best talent can take a big problem and break it into achievable pieces. That’s why marathon runners start with just one mile a day in training. The same is true with great management. First, build in achievable and stretch goals within the project. Second, post goals publicly so teammates can hold each other accountable. Lastly, ignite friendly competitive spirit — all with leaderboards!
- Matt Ehrlichman, Porch
5. Make Everything Visible
Make visible the positive and negative effects of an employee’s actions, and make sure everyone on the team knows everyone else’s responsibilities. When employees know that they’re contributing to the team and company as a whole, they are much less likely to fall behind or hide from their responsibilities.
- David Politis, BetterCloud
6. Communicate Constantly
Constantly communicate and follow up. If they see that the deadline is important to you, they’ll remain motivated to the end. Ask for progress updates on a timely basis, and let them know that you’re there if help is needed.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
7. Create a Clear Motivation
The deadline is just a date. The results of the project should be the true source of motivation. Make sure everyone understands why getting this project done on this day will have a big impact on your company and its customers.
- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
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