When budgets are frozen, perks have dried up and the Seattle skies are grey and bleak, what can you do motivate those on your team (and yourself)? Try these five tips.

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It’s that time of year again — when managers go through the annual ritual of employee performance appraisals. During a strong economy, appraisals were also a time to recognize outstanding employee performance with fabulous benefits and perks, such as the generous stock options handed out within the local IT and technology industries.

But as the economy continues to struggle, many managers are telling me they have come to dread the performance-appraisal process. So many perks have been greatly reduced or eliminated to cut costs that managers are finding it more and more difficult to motivate employees and even stay motivated themselves.

When budgets are frozen, perks have dried up and the Seattle skies are grey and bleak, what can you do motivate those on your team (and yourself)? Try these five tips:

Be a role model. Help employees identify what they are passionate about at work, and then provide them with projects or assignments in their areas of passion or interest.

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Help them develop their careers. Work with each employee to create his or her own personal development plan. Support employees with ongoing coaching and mentoring to help them increase their skills and broaden or deepen their work experience.

Empower them. In general, people want to succeed and they want to continue learning and growing, so provide them with opportunities to do so. Delegate challenging and meaningful work.

Define the strategy. Clearly define your department’s vision, mission and strategy, as well as the goals and objectives of each employee — and include your employees in the crafting of these. Make sure everyone on your team understands the role he or she plays in contributing to the success of the department.

Reinforce with rewards. No budget for perks? Enlist help from your entire team to generate ideas for rewards that are meaningful, but don’t cost a lot of money. This might include recognition in front of peers or companywide, admission into an internal training program or even being named the leader of a high-profile project.

While it may feel easier to motivate people when cost isn’t an issue, I sometimes think not having a budget for perks can actually be a blessing in disguise. That’s because it forces managers to take the time to understand what’s important to each employee and how each employee prefers to be rewarded. It’s just like the old saying: Sometimes the best things in life are free (or don’t cost a lot).

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.