With the economy still not fully recovered, young men and women who are starting their careers in finance aren’t often being met with the same compensation their predecessors were. And those lower-paid employees might be very vulnerable to anemic engagement. A recent Dale Carnegie European study found that the most engaged employees were executives, and those who made over $150,000. “Compensation has begun to shrink in financial institutions due to increasing regulatory pressure and poor earnings, and bonuses for the rank and file have been hard hit,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author, The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. Here are tips for engaging and motivating non-executive employees, particularly if you’re in the finance world:
Get to know them
The largest factor in employee engagement is a person’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor. And Dale Carnegie trainers teach that one of the most effective ways to get someone to like you is to simply ask about them, and listen to their responses. Also, you should learn and call your team members by their first name. It costs you no time or company money at all to give a quick “hello, nice to see you Bill/Sue/Robin/Mike” on your way past their desk, and it’s an effective technique for motivating employees. “You should never pry or become overly involved in their personal lives but you should be aware of the basics. Do they have kids and how old, a significant other, elderly parents, vacation plans, etc.?” says Cohen.
Put them on passion projects
One employee motivation technique is to find out what areas of your business would be most appealing for employees to explore. “Offer them the opportunity to take on a special project, not as a burden but to expand and enhance their skill set and their visibility,” says Cohen. Show them that you appreciate their interests and value their development. “Encourage them to pursue continuing education and certificates especially if your company offers tuition reimbursement and you see benefit from the additional training,” says Cohen.
Provide mentoring opportunities
Because the economy (and possibly your company’s bonus pool) grows and shrinks cyclically, it can be helpful for executives who have been through both good times and bad to mentor those who have been at the company more than six months but less than a year – a group that the European study found was extra vulnerable to low levels of engagement.
Recognize even slight improvements
Dale Carnegie Trainers instruct supervisors to motivate employees by focusing on successes large and small rather than jumping to criticize when things go wrong. This is especially true of clerical workers at banks, who may not enjoy praise after large deals go through but may be pinpointed for mistakes when things go haywire along the way to those deals. “You may not have the money to offer them but you can make sure that senior management is aware of their contributions and acknowledges them,” says Cohen.
Don’t yell at people
Any student of Dale Carnegie Training probably views this as quite obvious, but you’ll never win friends or truly influence people in the long term by shouting. Yelling is never a successful employee motivation technique. The culture on Wall Street has historically been driven by high energy, ambitious and sometimes tightly wound managers. Bosses who are screamers will lose respect and their employees will find ways to disappear,” says Cohen. Following the previous tips for improved engagement should have the opposite effect and continually strengthen your team.