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How to Motivate your Team

20 simple actions that all team leaders can take

Motivation is closely linked to engagement and studies have shown that an engaged workforce has many benefits including being more productive, and delivers better business results.

It's a word that is frequently used by many people, and yet if you ask 20 people to define what motivation means to them, you would get 20 different answers! This tells us that what motivates one person does not necessarily motivate another – we are all different.

However, there are some underlying factors that do motivate us all to some extent. Check out the work of Daniel Pink and David Rock for some excellent insight.

Motivation and Performance

Motivating people is part of the job of any manager or team leader. If motivation is high, people are more likely to be engaged in what they do, and it usually follows that work performance is high. Consider your own experiences...when you are committed to achieving something, you are more likely to do so than if you are indifferent to it.

Performance = Ability X Motivation

So even someone with great skills won’t perform well if their motivation is low.

There are lots of theories about motivation – indeed 2 are covered in our bite-size training session.

However, the simple fact is you can’t MAKE people motivated. All a manager can do is:

  1. Help to remove those blocks and barriers that are preventing motivation

  2. Create conditions and opportunities that allow people to become motivated.

And this needs to be consistently as part of every-day team leadership… NOT just when times are difficult, or performance is low.

20 simple actions to motivate people

Here are 20 simple things that managers can incorporate into every-day practice to help motivate and engage people…

  1. Encourage your team to set their own goals, or at least involve them in goal setting.

  2. Listen to the ideas that your team members have. Give them proper consideration.

  3. Challenge and stretch people, but not to the extent that it stresses them.

  4. Give feedback on performance. Make it regular and constructive.

  5. Notice when people are trying hard, but could use a little support. Recognise the input as well as the output.

  6. Take an interest in people as individuals. What’s important to one person is not necessarily important to another.

  7. Provide relevant and appropriate incentives.

  8. Make work fun (or at least a comfortable place to be)

  9. Celebrate success.

  10. Allow people to long as they learn from their failures.

  11. Give people responsibility. Make them accountable. Say thank you.

  12. Help people to focus on what they CAN do, rather than what they can’t.

  13. Be enthusiastic. It will rub off on your team.

  14. Focus on action, not intention. Encourage people to ‘do’ and reward effort as well as outcomes.

  15. Invest in the ‘emotional bank account’ of your team members. Give without expecting to receive, and they will start to return the favour.

  16. Encourage and demonstrate persistence. The only way to guarantee failure is to give up.

  17. Provide opportunities for people to work to their strengths, and shine.

  18. Remove physical and emotional barriers to success.

  19. Give people autonomy – ask for their ideas about how to do something, then get out of their way.

  20. Help people to see the bigger picture and understand how they are adding value to the business/customer/cause

Motivating people isn’t a short-term shot in the arm. You may temporarily lift spirits with a virtual cocktail-making class or a pizza party in the office, but the effects will be incredibly short-lived. They are simply a distraction.

Savvy managers know that motivation needs to worked on every single day – it’s a way of life, not a short-term fad. They notice when motivation is slipping – they use emotional intelligence to pick up on the subtle signs BEFORE it becomes an issue. They also work hard to build effective working relationships with team members, which makes it easier to have honest conversations and raise concerns BOTH WAYS.

If managers in your organisation need to think differently about motivation, download our training materials (also available for virtual delivery) and run a bite-size session that will encourage them to make small changes every day that will sustain a lasting change.

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