Feedback and Rewards

The 3 Secrets to Motivating Your Team

Shona Garner asked:

(c) 2008 Shona Garner

On a scale of nought to ten, with 10 being highly motivated, how motivated is the team you manage? Maybe you have some individuals who are more motivated than others? Maybe you’ve inherited a team where apathy and just “working for the pay cheque” are the norm. Or maybe your organisation is in the middle of major change which is having a massive negative impact on peoples’ engagement at work.

Whatever score you gave yourself, studies show most managers believe there’s a considerable amount of untapped energy, enthusiasm and potential which, if even partially released could have a profound effect on the bottom line. Knowing how to access this is a critical management skill, and can reap you massive rewards.

Shona Garner reveals 3 simple, but vital actions you need to take if you’re to improve the teamwork and motivation of your employees.

1) Team leadership demands you understand what drives your people As a manager, you can’t force people to be motivated! Motivation comes from within. Each of us is motivated to take (or not take) action for a variety of different reasons, a large number of which are not necessarily immediately obvious to those around us (or even to ourselves!) However, these reasons (or “drivers”) are the key to understanding what will encourage us to take action.

Your role is to provide the conditions and environment where people can and want to do their very best.

How can you do this?

– Pay attention to what people say and do, as this is often an indication of their work ethic as well as their drive.

– Ask them! As simple as it sounds, just asking them when they’ve felt most or least motivated will give you some potentially useful information and there may be some simple things you can do which will make all the difference to that employee.

– Don’t assume! Just because you love to be publicly recognised for high achievement, doesn’t mean this member of staff does! That might be their worst mightmare – and they’ll hate you for it!

– When project managing, look for ways to utilise the strengths and individual drivers in your team to maximise the result.

2) Make your team feel they’re partners in the drive to get results; not subordinates. You may be the boss – but the bottom line is, you can’t achieve the targets without your team! Whilst the overall objectives and strategy may not be negotiable, the how something is achieved is often much more flexible, and offers real opportunity for people to get involved and make constructive suggestions.

Wherever possible, be clear about what you are looking to achieve, and what is non-negotiable, then take the time to consider how each team member can best utilise their own strengths and preferences in terms of their own input. Encourage those who are hesitant, but whom you know from your relationship building, would like to have a go or have the potential to do a good job.

If they feel they have been consulted, and as far as possible been allowed to play to their strengths, they’ll reward you with maximum effort.

3) Understand the considerable power of praise. I could write masses on this one topic alone! But this one simple thing will do more for your team building and motivation than anything else!

Did you know, research shows that, in order to increase motivation and ensure top performance is consistently repeated we need to praise at least 5 times more often than we find fault or criticise? The reality is that, all too often, we focus on the weaknesses, and forget to show appreciation for what’s being done well. Worse – (and this is much more common,) we make a fleeting comment about what has been done well, then move swiftly on to what we think they could do better!! How on earth is that supposed to motivate?

Some simple tips which could transform apathy in your team:

– Make it a habit to notice positive behaviours, attitudes or specific actions an individual takes which support the overall team goals. Keep a note of this, and feedback what you’ve noticed in your informal chats. Watch them glow as they realise you’ve been taking notice!

– If someone exhibits exemplary behaviour, make a point of recognising this as soon as is practically possible.

– When you give feedback of any sort, avoid vague phrases like, “well done” or “good work” which are totally meaningless and far too overused!

Be specific about the particular action or attitude they have displayed, and, most importantly, explain the overall impact of this great behaviour/action for you, the team or even the organisation. So, for example, when an employee deals with a particularly diffiicult and disgruntled customer, turning the whole situation round, you can say “I was really impressed with the way you dealt with x. You maintained your composure, handled her anger extremely well, showed empathy yet managed to find a solution which satisfied both the customer and our own internal guidelines. Without your intervention she might have taken this further. Thanks!”

None of this requires a lot of your time – just a tweak in how you do things – but the dividends for you are worth it!

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