Some bosses try to motivate with money. Others use another approach which you could call being there for someone. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine says, “I just want you to know that I’m there for you.” Being there for someone who doesn’t care doesn’t do any good. On the other hand, giving financial incentives to someone who doesn’t give a damn doesn’t help either. So, to motivate an employee, you need to start with good material, namely, someone who is motivatable!
But, what if you were like an uncle-boss, or an avuncular boss (same meaning.) What if you were always there to explain things to your employee. What if you were there to offer one on one training to them? What if you were always teaching them new things that would help them move up the totem-pole? Many employees would value this because other companies simply don’t care, don’t help, and leave you in the ditch — and then complain if you goofed in any way. Most employee goofs are because their managers didn’t train them (or select them well.)
Giving coaching on what courses to take, and giving them tips for moving up the corporate ladder can also be very helpful. Of course if someone moves up the ladder, they might not be in your department for long, but at least they will send positive thoughts in your direction and put in a good word. You get good work-karma in any case from doing good deeds. Cats get good kitty-karma when they don’t scratch their friends (or hiss) and bosses get good boss-karma by doing good deeds for their employees.
Being nice, fair, and not losing your temper are important in the work place. Good work is synonymous to good faith. If people trust you and like you they will work for you better and longer. There are certain behavioral basics you need to know. You need to praise people when they deserve it, remind them of what they are exceptional at and be generally personable. But, putting general good behavior aside, taking an interest in really being helpful to your underlings will make all the difference in having loyal employees!