Whilst we are truly only ever in control of ourselves – our actions, reactions, thoughts and opinions – if we lead or manage others, we are expected to ‘steer’ them towards certain outcomes.
It may sound simple, but occasionally, this is a big ask. Someone in your team may be upset or worried about something, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a work issue at fault. Unsurprisingly, their mood dips as a result; the risk is that this lack of get-up-and-go may affect their colleagues and those around them. It’s almost like a virus that could spread if not contained and dealt with.
Here are our top ten ways to motivate others:
- Start with you
How can you motivate others if you’re feeling dissatisfied or negative yourself? The journey starts with you: make sure you’ve dealt with any stress or obstacles you’re facing before looking to motivate others. Imagine trying to gee up your team whilst you’re panicking about the department’s KPIs – do you imagine that your ‘everything’s great, get on board the inspiration train’ speech will sound sincere if you’re fretting, or is it likely to sound hollow? Enthusiasm is infectious, and it’s a fantastic motivator. It can’t, however, be something you fake.
Bulldozing into such a scenario with a song in your heart and the energy of a fireball will not achieve anything other than a confused staff member who will most probably want to run the other way. If the employee in question is usually consistent and their productivity or interaction suddenly dips, it’s the manager’s task to understand why. Don’t bully people to get them to do what you want; listening to them and understanding their issue will work much better.
- Be specific
Sometimes, people become demotivated if they don’t know what’s being asked of them. Like a rabbit caught in headlights, they may freeze rather than ask for help. When introducing a task or goal, make sure you’re specific on what the initiative is, why it’s necessary, what their role is – overall and day-to-day – and how success will be measured. Don’t assume they’ll know every detail or leave them to fill in any blanks. Help them understand the purpose.
In some scenarios, particularly if it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ period, employees may be demotivated if they think they’re carrying all the burden. Though you may have good reason not to pitch in, is it one that your team know about and understand? Because, believe us, they’ll come to their own conclusions, which could be far from the truth. Involve them. Wherever possible, if there’s pressure on the team or department, consider how you can help alleviate it, if only a little. That may not automatically equal hard graft, rather, simple solutions and strategy. That you’re trying to make a difference will be noted and welcome – absence without explanation, not so much.
If change is on the cards, not only should you give reasons for the adjustments and upheaval to your team, you should also believe that it’s going to be successful. People look to others when uncertain; if they see a confident, in-charge leader ready to guide them through choppy waters, they’ll feel much more motivated than a leader who snipes and snivels at the new proposals and resists them at every turn. Lead by example.
- Find the carrot
There may be many reasons why motivation is lacking. Maybe your team is under a lot of stress and strain and there’s little you can do to alleviate it. There may be something, however, that you could negotiate on their behalf as an incentive. If this is a possibility, don’t choose the ‘carrot’ for them; some people may be motivated by financial reward, others by job perks or flexibility within their role. The simple solution is to just ask! As an aside, the ‘carrot’ is usually much better at motivating others than the ‘stick’.
- Be personal
No one wants to think they’re just a number at work, or that they could be easily replaced. But if you stopped to think about it, how many opportunities do you take to thank your team members, or show them how much you appreciate their efforts? Are you aloof to your team, or do you foster good relationships? Are you present? Do you ask about their family in conversation or know their hobbies and interests? Are you approachable? The ‘them and us’ scenario breeds demotivation; instil boundaries, not barriers.
Motivation falters when there are problems at work (assuming a work-related issue is the root cause); it doesn’t tend to happen when targets are being met and everyone feels like they’re pulling together towards a shared, welcome goal. But things can and do go wrong. If this happens, possibly during a period of organisational change, or during negative market/outside influences, help to reassure your team that they’re protected, one way or another. Demonstrate that there are relative policies and procedures in place, and if they’re not there, lobby for them! Once the uncertainty diminishes, you’ll find motivation will creep back in.
- On and on and on…
Recognise that motivating others is an ongoing process. It’s unlikely that their dissatisfaction occurred overnight, so it’s hardly surprising that the solution will take time to overcome it. Neither should you assume that once your team appears motivated, you’re free to pay complete attention to something else. Teams need continuous direction and motivation, otherwise, it dips.
- Big cogs, little cogs
Your team members need to understand their contribution is worthy if they’re to feel motivated. However small, if they didn’t do what they did, the company would suffer – from the person cleaning the toilets to the chief executive. It doesn’t matter if they’re part-time or temporary; these should feel as valued as permanent staff, who would surely huff and puff if the temporary people weren’t there to help shoulder seasonal burdens, for example. Every person’s contribution matters; help them to see that.
These are just some of the ways you can motivate others. It’s important to realise motivation is not a process where ‘one-size-fits-all’; an individual approach to each employee can go some way to eradicating it. Being valued, being listened to, being respected and being inspired are all crucial elements if you want to get the best from your people.
If you’d like Emerge to coach teams, departments or individuals within your organisation, or if you’re an individual who would benefit from a confidential, effective sounding board and facilitator, contact us on 01329 820580, or email us at email@example.com.