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The ability to motivate employees is one of the greatest skills an entrepreneur can possess. A lack of cash doesn't have to make it difficult to improve the company morale. With the help of great team leaders, build a culture and create a passionate, hard-working team that is as committed to growing and improving the company as its founders. Here's how:

Be Generous with Praise. Everyone wants it and it’s one of the easiest things to give. Plus, praise from the CEO goes a lot farther than you might think. Praise every improvement that you see your team members make.

Get Rid of Managers. Projects without project managers? That doesn’t seem right, but try it! Removing the project lead or supervisor and empowering your staff to work together as a team rather then everyone reporting to one individual can do wonders. Think about it. What’s worse than letting your supervisor down? Letting your team down! Allowing people to work together as a team, on an equal level with their co-workers, will often produce better projects faster. People will come in early, stay late, and devote more of their energy to solving problems.

Make Your Ideas Theirs. People hate being told what to do. Instead of telling people what you want done; ask them in a way that will make them feel like they came up with the idea. “I’d like you to do it this way” turns into “Do you think it’s a good idea if we do it this way?” 

If you own or operate a business, chances are you are working with clients on some level. It is very important that you develop long lasting relationships of trust and honesty with people so that you can retain their business and their loyalty.

There are a number of reasons why this is key in business. It applies to more than just clients though. It also applies to the people for whom and with whom you are working.

If your employees see you telling the truth, even when it is not easy or comfortable to do so, then you will build an incredible bond of trust with them. With that bond of trust will come more cooperation and motivation, which is exactly what the head of any company wants.

The lesson is clear. If you want your customers to remain loyal, you must earn and keep their trust. If you want a stronger team at work, you have to build a foundation of trust. This will quickly become your competitive advantage when it comes to business.

To begin, you must assume the best when it comes to the people with whom you are working. When something goes wrong, or when the other person disappoints you, start by assuming the best. Honor the other person you are dealing with. Keep your temper in check and try to figure out what can be done to fix the problem. Keep that crucial focus set on the future, and maintain the relationship that you need to. If you lose your temper and start the blame game, you may end up very embarrassed by your behavior once the situation calms down. After all, sometimes the situations we try to blame on others end up being rooted in our own mistakes.

When your customers are right, make sure that you stick up for them every chance you get. This is one key way to build trust–let them know that they are important enough to stand up for, even when it is not necessarily popular.

Next, do your best not to gossip. There is something very alluring, and maybe even a little satisfying, about sharing a negative tidbit. It may make you feel a bit superior, but you have to fight the urge to add to the passing of information behind people's backs. There are a few simple reasons for this. Negative gossip almost always gets back to the person you are discussing. That is just the nature of juicy, negative, sensationalized news. Just to make matters worse, the version that gets back to the person you discussed is usually worse than the version you shared.

Next, you need to learn to keep all of your business promises and claims. Nothing destroys trust faster than failing to keep your promises.
You tell a colleague that you will get back to him, and he sees it as a promise. It is completely up to you to follow through.

Do not get discouraged, if building that foundation with the people you work with takes time. Successful relationships are not established in one day-they are created subtly over time. Just as it takes more than one block to build a fortress, it takes more than one action to build trust. It takes a lot of blocks to get the results you want.

If you work to develop this key quality, you can become a better leader and manager, you can retain your employees, and you can keep your customers who want to buy from you over and over again for life.

Source: Ronald Pedactor is a veteran in the field of online marketing and has authored hundreds of articles relating to online marketing and search engine optimization. Photo: stock.xchng

Leaders, are you looking for a highly effective way to gain support for meeting established goals, creating more autonomy within your organization, saving time, and better controlling your personal destiny? Learn the fine art of "managing up."

"Managing up is, in essence, positioning people well," says Quint Studer, author of Straight A Leadership: Alignment, Action, Accountability. You must make a conscious effort to manage up whenever possible. Studer says there are three major ways to do so:

Manage up your boss. Managing up your boss positions the organization well, aligns desired behaviors, helps senior leaders be more visible, and creates an opportunity for praise. "Bosses hear what's wrong all the time. Very rarely do they hear what's right," Studer says. Here is a suggestion:

Write your boss a thank you note. Be specific about what you appreciate, because it will align your boss's behavior to your own and help you control your own destiny. For example, if you say, "Debbie, I really appreciate the fact that you always make time for me because I find this to be so important," what do you think will happen the next time you see Debbie? She will make time for you.

Manage up your staff. Managing up employees is a practical tool for reinforcing specific behaviors. "Recognized behavior gets repeated," Studer points out. "When all managers start managing up their direct reports on a regular basis, pretty soon you have a whole company full of people making it a point to replicate the behavior that got them recognized. Here's how:

Single out high performers for public praise. Corner your exemplary employee when he's with a group of his peers to say thank you. Be specific, not general. Don't just say, "Bob, you're doing a great job." Say, "Bob, you did a great job on that marketing report. Thanks for staying at the office so late last night to finish it up."
Manage up your organization.

"People need to feel good about the company they work for," says Studer. "No one can achieve excellence—which means having a sense of purpose, doing worthwhile work, and making a difference—if they're in an environment where people denigrate the company or its products. Try this:

Never down talk other departments. If you're in marketing, don't make disparaging remarks, even jokingly, about those short-sighted "bean counters" in accounting. Remember, you must seek to create alignment, not division. A company divided against itself cannot stand.

Photo: Ophelia Cherry

Remember when e-mail marketing started, they said, direct mail is going to be a thing of the past. But even now, catalogs, donation requests, credit card offers, and local business promotions still show up in the mailbox. Direct mail is not dead.

Now they’re saying social media is going to decimate e-mail marketing, but it won’t. It also won’t harm direct mail, but social media is here to stay. So what does it mean to your business or the business for which you work? Answer this question: Who are your clients and do they use social media?

According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook and other social media is 65-plus with 100 percent growth and 50 to 64 with 88 percent growth in 2009.

If you are not a Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest user or only use social media a little bit, start using it more, or get someone in your office who is involved in marketing to do it. Look at interactions between users, examine the advertising, see what your competitors are doing, see what companies you admire are doing. Being that Facebook is the most popular of the social media sites, you should start there.

Overcoming obstacles and developing skills necessary for the corporate sector can be more easily accomplished with the moral support and sage advice of those who have gone before. Many women in West Michigan are already taking part in mentorship programs within their corporations or in community-wide programs. Here are five reasons why you should get involved in a mentorship program:

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