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BLOOMINGTON n Motivating employees can be as simple as giving someone a hand-written thank you note. Or, consider giving a small donation in an employee's name to a cause they support.

Those were just a couple of ideas offered by Clinton training consultant Shirley Stelbrink to a packed roomful of people attending the McLean County Chamber of Commerce brown bag session Wednesday.

Stelbrink engaged the 30 attendees in an exercise aimed at motivating and recognizing others on a shoestring budget. Kim Cazalet, chamber education coordinator, said the program seemed to hit home with members on both the motivational and shoestring budget aspects. She created a waiting list of members who wanted to attend, but were unable to due to space constraints.

"Why are we discussing this topic? We have low morale because we run marathons too many days in a row. Less people have more demands.

'Attrition n baby boomers are starting to retire n means a loss of experience. So, how does the person coming in do the job without the knowledge base?" asked Stelbrink, a former employment services director at information technology firm NIMS Associates in Decatur.

The owner of Stelbrink-Crews & Co. cited research showing employees want to hear the words "thank you" and they want to get promoted for good performance. Yet 58 percent said they never get thanked for a good job and 78 percent don't get promoted.

"Thanking someone is easy to do. There are two secrets to motivating people: excellent performance begins with clearly and commonly defined goals, and you get what you give," said Stelbrink.

"Don't tell someone to just do a good job. Do a good job compared to what? And lead by example."

Stelbrink said businesses sometimes create bad employees by providing unsuitable environments. Instead of criticizing employees for making mistakes, employers and co-workers should give others courage to succeed or make mistakes, she said.

Demonstrate respect by listening to what others say and how they say it, she suggested. Be especially attentive to body language, Stelbrink added.

"Tell the person they've done well and how they've done well. It builds value," said Stelbrink. "If you're going to empower someone, you need to allow them to make mistakes. Take time to coach others. Create winning rewards based on what you see and hear, and on what you can count and measure for a person."

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