1. Give them a voice
Joie de Vivre Hotels was on the verge of failing when founder Chip Conley held a series of retreats to ask employees, from managers to bellhops, how they would turn things around for the California chain. Feeling more invested afterward, workers went into overdrive to attract business. "The more you give people a voice, the more they step up," he says. The company survived -- and Conley grew it to $250 million in sales.
2. Clear the roadblocks
As Jim Collins has pointed out, if you're asking, "How do I motivate employees?" you're going down the wrong path. The right question to ask is, "How do I stop demotivating them?" Ask staffers today what stupid processes and obstacles are slowing their work -- whether it's long meetings, endless paperwork, or incompetent colleagues -- and then free them from those hassles. My prediction: Their productivity will double.
3. Grow better bosses
People don't quit companies; they escape lousy managers. One recent survey showed that 65% of workers would prefer a new boss over a raise. If your team is underperforming, take a close look at how your lieutenants manage their direct reports. Do they know how to coach your employees so that they can excel -- or make the people around them feel alienated and stupid? If it's the latter, get them into management training ASAP.
4. Take a break from austerity