A common question I am asked is “How do I motivate my team?” I usually respond, “You don’t. However what you can do is to create the right environment, the right factors and opportunities that will motivate each of your team members to give their best.”
Each person in your team is different. They have different interests, strengths, skills, needs, desires, behavioural characteristics. Different work will energise different people. By building a relationship that is based on trust, respect and a belief in each person you will be able to gather information to help you answer the above question. The information you learn will help you to:
- Agree objectives that will give each person a sense of achievement from their work and opportunities to learn and further develop their strengths. Studies from Gallup (Rath, 2007) indicate that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths everyday are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. Their studies also suggests that when a manager focuses on an individual’s strengths the chances of them being disengaged is 1%.
- Delegate interesting, meaningful and challenging work appropriately to your team members. The work you delegate should create the right opportunities for growth, learning and development and advancement. Be there to support, encourage and coach your team member. People want to feel that they are making a contribution that there is a purpose behind what they are doing.
- Take a genuine interest in them as a person, their career aspirations/path and work-life balance. Work with them to identify steps and actions that they can take to move them along their desired career path while achieving their desired work-life balance.
- Give recognition and feedback in a way that acknowledges their strengths, skills and that they are valued. Help them to feel that they are making progress. Too many manages focus on weakness’s rather than strengths. Gallup research (Rath, 2007) has shown that when a manager focuses on an individual’s weakness’s the chances of them being disengaged is 22%. However this is better than when a manager primarily ignores a team members when the chances of that person being disengaged is 40%. Therefore, do not ignore your good or high performing team members.
- Empower your team members. Share your vision for the team and what is expected of each person clearly and precisely and ask them for their ideas, input, feed-back. Genuinely listen to them. If your team know, are bought into your vision and know clearly what is expected of them i.e. a detailed understanding of what they are supposed to do, how that fits in with what everyone else is supposed to do and how those expectations change when circumstances change (Wagner & Harter, 2006) they will be more creative. Help each team member to feel that their opinions count. Explore their input with them openly, act on it and implement where appropriate.
What about pay? In Dan Pink’s YouTube video “The surprising truth about what motivates” he says that you need to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table and that for complex tasks we are more motivated by mastery, autonomy and purpose.
Have the right conversations with each person in your team. It will provide you with the information and answers to create an engaging and motivating work place for each person. Challenge yourself to build these relationships, to have a genuine interest in each person and their growth and development, set yourself objectives to create a motivating environment and measure your progress through your team’s engagement and results, look for feedback and ideas from your team to help you with this.
Rath, T. (2007). Strengths Finder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press.
Wagner, R., & Harter, J. K. (2006). 12 The Elements of Great Managing. New York: Gallup Press.