How to Keep Your Employees Happy While Pushing Them to Their Limits

happy employee

Sooner or later you’re going to have employees. If you want to create a large company, you’ll have no choice but to hire people to help you out.

Although hiring employees may sound simple, you’ll quickly learn that no one will care for your company as much as you do nor will they work as hard as you will. Every once in a while, you may find some rock star talent to help you out, but those won’t be the majority of the people that will comprise your team.

So, how do you get people to work really hard?

Well, you have to push them to their limits while keeping them motivated, or else they’ll get burned out and quit. Here are 7 tactics I use to push employees to their limits while still keeping them motivated and happy.

Tactic #1: Encourage and discourage at the same time

Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I typically point out in what ways employees can be working more efficiently, highlight what else they can do for the company, and remind them that they need to be creating more aggressive revenue goals.

Over the years, I’ve learned that critiquing people four days a week does help them work harder, but at the same time, it can cause them to quit. So, every Friday, I make sure I compliment them on the job well done and tell them how happy I am to be working with them. I also do the same thing over the weekend through text messages and emails, which makes them feel ecstatic and ready to work hard on Monday.

The reason I choose to compliment on Fridays is because it’s usually a deadline day when everyone is trying to hit all of their weekly goals. So, telling them how well of a job they did shows your employees that you appreciate them and gives them a sense of accomplishment.

Tactic #2: Dangle a carrot

The best way I’m able to motivate my employees to work hard, while keeping them happy, is to dangle a carrot in front of them. You will have to figure out what carrot appeals to what employees. If you can’t figure out what appeals to them, you may want to start with dangling money as most people are looking to move up in their careers and make more money.

For example, I know my assistant wants to make more money, so every month that she can help me close two enterprise deals, she gets a decent size bonus. This works well because it not only pushes her to figure out which companies I can sell large contracts to, but it also makes her think about my company’s financial well-being.

I have another employee who loves luxury watches. I’ve offered to buy him a fancy watch if he is able to get my company an extra one hundred qualified leads each day as that will drastically improve the company’s bottom line.

Whatever carrot you decide to dangle, make sure your employee is emotionally attached to it. Playing on logic is great, but dangling carrots that play on emotions are more effective.

Tactic #3: Feed them well

Everyone has to eat! Your employees are not exception, so why not feed them? Google and Facebook are just a few of the companies that feed their employees for free, and it seems to work well. This way, the employees don’t have to leave work to get food, which leads to more productivity.

If you are starting out, you may not be able to provide the level of food services that Google and Facebook provide, but this doesn’t mean you can’t treat your employees to a nice meal once a month. Or you can tie meals to specific company objectives. For example, you can buy lunch on Fridays for employees after you know they have achieved their weekly goals.

When feeding your employees, you don’t have to pick the fanciest restaurants. Just pick a unique place that has a fun vibe. I have found that those types of places are much more appreciated than the stuffy restaurants that you have to dress up to eat at.

Tactic #4: Spontaneity

One of the easiest ways to make your employees more productive is to change the environment they are working in. You can do things like rearranging office furniture, but I prefer changing up the environment by being spontaneous.

For example, I have weekly brainstorming sessions with two of my marketers, and I conduct those meetings in my condo. Last week, we decided to brainstorm while taking a walk on the harbor as the weather was nice. The beautiful thing about this was that my guys were able to come up with some awesome marketing ideas, and they didn’t feel like they were working. Instead, they felt like they were just taking a break from work and relaxing by the water.

The trick with being spontaneous is to do things that your employees wouldn’t expect. Like the example above, it can be very simple and without costing you a dime.

Tactic #5: Give them a voice

Just because someone works for you doesn’t mean they are your “bitch”. They are there to help you grow your business and do what’s best for it. They aren’t there to be your slaves. Everyone has feelings, and people want to be heard. So, when you are in meetings or making decisions about your company, ask your employees what they think.

You don’t always have to take their input, but you’re better off asking them what they think as they could come up with a good solution or a point that you haven’t thought of. Plus, this will also help them think outside the box. One day, they can even start making certain decisions for you so you can focus on the bigger picture.

Tactic #6: Your goal should be to help them accomplish their goals

Before any employee starts working for me, I ask them their five most important personal goals. These goals can’t be tied to work. They have to be purely personal. Once they list the goals, I let them know which ones I can help them accomplish.

In most cases, I can typically solve four out of five goals any new employee shares with me. As people continue to work for me, over the course of each year, I slowly help them mark off each of their goals.

At the end of the year, I go over their personal goals to find out if they were happy with their accomplishments. At the same time, I go over their new goals for the next twelve months and help them accomplish those as well.

The reason you want to help employees in their personal lives is because it will affect their work lives. It doesn’t matter that they should keep the two worlds separate. People simply have a tendency to mix their work lives with their personal lives.

Tactic #7: Don’t stop pushing

Employees have a tendency to correlate bonuses, raises, and promotions with how well they are doing in their jobs and how much they are learning.

So, before my employees have a chance to ask me for a raise or a promotion, I let them know what I expect from them and what it will take for them to receive a promotion.

By doing this, I’m pushing my employees to work harder, and I keep pushing them until they start snapping back at me. Although they sometimes hate me for this, when they look back at what they accomplished and learned, they tend to be happy with their progress.


Using the tactics I mentioned above is a great first step in keeping your employees happy while pushing them to their limits, but it isn’t enough. Over the last ten years as an entrepreneur, I learned one important thing: it’s the small things that really make a big difference.

Get to know your employees, bond with them, and find out what makes them happy in life. If you care for them just like you care for your wife, husband, child, or sibling, you’ll quickly realize that not only will they work really hard for you, but they’ll be happy to do so.