The difference between a great team and a mediocre team often comes down to motivation. A great team can achieve great things despite the obstacles thrown in their way, whereas a poor team will more often than not fail, even when everything seems set up for success.
Clearly, a motivated team can be the difference between success and failure. But what can you do to ensure your team is motivated, giving you and your team the best chance for success?
Below you’ll find 6 tips to help you motivate your team and then sustain that motivation.
Tip #1: Use Free Rewards
When we think about using rewards for a job well done, we often think about monetary rewards. But there are plenty of free rewards available that can be at least as motivating as financial rewards.
They’re obviously free, so unlike monetary rewards, they won’t cost the organization anything and you won’t ever run out of them.
What kind of rewards are we talking about?
Public praise. When you see someone in your team doing something right then praise them in front of the rest of the group. This serves a couple of motivating purposes.
First, it will give the person receiving the praise a reputation to live up to, increasing their motivation. Second, other team members will be motivated to work hard to also achieve the same public praise.
Tip #2: Create Buy-In
In all but the most challenging of circumstances, where directives must simply be actioned, consider taking a collaborative approach to creating plans with your team.
Co-creating plans with your team have a number of advantages towards team motivation.
The most important being that by co-creating the plan with your team, they will understandably feel a sense of ownership towards the plan, after all, they helped create it.
This sense of ownership means they’ll be much more committed to the plan than they would otherwise be if a plan had simply been forced upon them.
This means that as problems arise they’ll be more inclined to proactively work to find solutions to move the plan forward and keep the plan on track.
Tip #3: Be Persuasive
If you want to get your team to follow you, then you’ll need to be persuasive. Many people believe that persuasion is an innate gift or talent that people are born with, but this isn’t the case at all.
The art of persuasion has been studied for thousands of years. In fact, the first book on the topic was written by Aristotle over 2,000 years ago.
Learn how to be persuasive from people who have gone before you. Reading about the rhetorical triangle as proposed by Aristotle would be a great place to start. The theory of the rhetorical triangle states that to create a compelling argument you should be logical, appeal to your audience emotionally, and take the time to establish your credibility.
Alternatively, you could read one of the many books about the subject, such as The Psychology of Influence and Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini, or How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Tip #4: Communicate
Managers frequently abide by the adage that no news is good news, however, teams like to know what’s going on. People like to know both individually and as part of a team, whether they are doing a good job.
By sharing how things are going, along with the role the team is playing in the overall success of the organization, you’ll again increase buy-in from the team to the overall plan.
As a team leader or manager, you won’t always have all the answers. Share the challenges you face with your team and you might just get some really helpful suggestions.
Tip #5: Set Goals the Right Way
In order to motivate your team the goals you set need to be challenging and a stretch, but not impossible to achieve or too easy.
If you set goals that are too easy, then sure, your team will hit them, but goals set too low could actually demotivate your team. Similarly, goals that are next to impossible to achieve will also demotivate your team.
If you have a big goal to achieve, but it’s several years away, then break it down into bite-sized chunks to keep your team motivated. Every month you could set monthly targets, for example.
This will keep your team motivated to hit the next monthly target whilst they work towards the bigger goal.
Tip #6: Manage Poor Performance
It might sound obvious but your team both expects and needs to be managed. When an individual doesn’t perform to the standards that you and the rest of the team expect then this can damage morale and motivation.
Get your team regularly used to receiving feedback. We’ve already discussed giving someone public praise when they do something right and this tip is about helping a team member make a course correction when they don’t meet standards.
If you’re giving feedback, it’s a good idea to do it as soon as you can after the event which initiated the feedback, so that it doesn’t come as a shock to your team member.
It’s also a good idea to keep it impersonal, for example, saying, “the presentation lacked a few details I’d have expected to see”, is a lot easier to hear than, “your presentation was bad!”.
By keeping things impersonal you help your team members focus on and solve the issue, rather than focussing on the fact they have been reprimanded.
Keeping your team motivated isn’t a set and forget activity. It’s an ongoing process of making incremental improvements over time.
Inevitable, just when you think things are going well you’ll find a motivation problem that needs to be addressed. Don’t get disheartened, this is normal.
It’s simply a case of recalibrating your approach and pushing forward.
In this article, we’ve covered 6 tips to get and keep your team motivated, including using free rewards, creating buy-in, being persuasive, communication, goal setting and managing poor performance.
If you repeatedly and frequently use these techniques you should start to observe the motivation of individuals within your team, and that of the team as a whole, sore.