“How do I motivate people?” is a question that we deal with early on in Zoomly’s bite-sized workshop on the topic, as well as how NOT to. There’s more to it than high-fiving people or telling them they’re ‘awesome’ – much more.
A useful exercise is to think of when you’ve felt really motivated about your job, compared to when you’ve felt utterly demotivated. What was different about the two situations? It might have been external factors: the economy, a tough client (or a great one), or an unexpected shift in the market. And I’m willing to bet that, as you reflect on the differences, your manager would have featured significantly. How people are treated by their manager has a major role in how they feel at the end of each working day.
And now here you are, managing a team – so it’s your turn to be the person whose behaviour will affect how your team members feel as they head for home today. These 7 tips will help you create more motivating days more of the time.
1. Be honest about the organisation’s performance
You’re the conduit between senior management – who should know what’s going on – and more junior people, who are less likely to know the wider scheme of things. Provide the bigger picture about what’s going well (and what isn’t).
What if you don’t have a clue how your employer’s doing, or you’re really not sure what to say? It’s time to ask and find out; simply ask your manager or department head what you could and should be telling the team about how things are going.
2. Link small tasks to bigger objectives
“It’s a s@*t job but I had to do it” may indeed be true, but it’s hardly motivating to hear. Far more energising to hear from you how the task contributes to the organisation. For example, getting invoices out and paid on time helps the firm’s cashflow position; sending updates to clients on time keeps them informed and assured that work’s getting done.
3. Help people set short- and long-term goals
When people can see the immediate steps they need to take to move closer to a long-term goal, they’re more likely to take action than put it off.
4. Acknowledge individual difference
People’s drives and needs will change over time. A newly-hired graduate is probably facing a hefty debt; a new parent is most likely sleep-deprived; a team member caring for elderly parents is facing logistical and emotional demands. People tend to be more loyal to bosses who acknowledge and accommodate individuals’ different situations. What would you want from your manager in one of those scenarios?
5. Give feedback to team members on their performance
This doesn’t have to be a Big Deal; in fact, it’s much better to give feedback little and often. That way, people will know how they’re doing and where they stand. Keeping people in the dark about how they’re performing is de-motivating – and all too often not discussed until the exit interview.
6. Help them grow
Yes, they may be the best member of your team and you don’t want to let them go, but if there’s a promotion coming up it could be time to sponsor their efforts and help them step up. Meanwhile, lobby for training and support to help your team expand their knowledge and develop their skills.
7. Have their back
If you’ve ever had a boss who stood up for you, you’ll know how you felt about them. By contrast, you may also have worked for someone who was only concerned with covering their own back. Stand up for your team members, even in the face of criticism; rather than caving in, you can insist on hard evidence and commit to dealing with the matter.
Which tip most resonates with you?
You may find this post useful: Are you facing an employee exodus?