Managers need to motivate employees, but small-business owners need to motivate their managers. Your business depends on motivated managers to set the tone and pace for your operation, and you must develop skills to keep your managers engaged, interested and forward-looking. You can develop a repertoire of techniques that will motivate your managers no matter what kind of business you operate. Examine the ways you can keep managers actively involved in pursuing success for your business.

Challenge your managers. People who reach management level do so because they like challenges. Make sure you have challenging goals, new initiatives and performance standards that challenge your managers. Set benchmarks that are just out of reach but not impossible. This will not only steadily improve your business efficiency and profitability; it will keep your managers engaged in meaningful activities they can measure.

Listen to your managers. You should conduct manager surveys and hold informal discussions to understand what motivates your managers. Ask them directly what factors help them remain motivated and interested in their work. That doesn’t mean you will automatically eliminate paperwork if managers don’t find it motivating, but you can learn what elements of a manager’s job you should emphasize. The act of listening to your managers' concerns will go a long way to keeping them motivated.

Recognize your managers when they achieve goals. Also go out of your way to point out how much you appreciate it when a manager goes out of his way. You can offer bonuses, but even simple verbal recognition, after-work celebrations or an informal chat can let your exceptional manager know that you are paying attention and appreciating her work. This simple recognition could very well have a domino effect on the rest of your company by transferring your manager’s enthusiasm to employees.

Communicate consistently. One of the best ways to keep a manager motivated is to avoid dampening existing motivation. Inconsistent polices and vague directives can frustrate a manager who wants to do a good job but does not understand what you want. Explain the details of a new process. Give step-by-step guidelines for implementing procedures. Make quality standards clear and measurable. Managers need to know what to live up to, and once they do, they will be more motivated to succeed.

Encourage independence. You hire managers so they can make decisions and use their talents. Do not micro-manage them. Give them the independence to use their judgment without feeling like you will examine every move they make. Trusting managers can motivate them to become self-reliant and effective, and they will look forward to using their own talents on the job. As their confidence grows, your business will grow, and you will have managers who are motivated to contribute to even more growth.


Try other motivators before you resort to financial motivations such as bonuses. This can save you money and provide you with managers who do a good job because they want to and not because you will pay them more.