Don’t show ’em the money (even if you have it). Here are nine better ways to boost morale.

Inc. Magazine, Nov. 28, 2011:

The ability to motivate employees is one of the greatest skills an entrepreneur can possess. Two years ago, I realized I didn’t have this skill. So I hired a CEO who did.

Josh had 12 years in the corporate world, which included running a major department at Comcast. I knew he was seasoned, but I was still skeptical at first. We were going through some tough growing pains, and I thought that a lack of cash would make it extremely difficult to improve the company morale.

I was wrong.

With his help and the help of the great team leaders he put in place, Josh not only rebuilt the culture, but also created a passionate, hard-working team that is as committed to growing and improving the company as I am.

Here are nine things I learned from him:

1. 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. Once you’re comfortable delivering praise one-on-one to an employee, try praising them in front of others.

2. Get rid of the managers. Projects without project managers? That doesn’t seem right! 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.

3. 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?” 

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