Some jobs are boring. That makes managing the people who do them a challenge, especially when those employees grew up with constant entertainment from TV and the Internet. How do you keep them engaged and motivated when they’re counting the hours until they get to go home and do something fun?
• Be honest. Acknowledge up front that the work isn’t very exciting, but explain why it’s important. Don’t just focus on the company’s profits. Emphasize how their work helps other people—co-workers, customers, and so forth.
• Give them goals. Sometimes a target can make work more interesting. Challenge employees in different ways: To greet the most customers, assemble the most widgets, count the inventory more accurately, etc. Offer a small reward to make the game more enticing.
• Look to the future. Employees are more likely to stick with a job, even a boring one, if they see the possibility of moving into something better. Describe potential career paths, and tell your people what they need to do in order to move up.
• Ask for feedback. Encourage employees to suggest ideas for making their work more interesting or productive. Implementing their ideas will show that you value their opinions and take them seriously. They’ll also be more invested in making their own suggestions succeed.