The best managers are always looking for ways to motivate their team. Your high-performing team could be starting to lose momentum, or your low-performing team could be stagnating entirely. The point is that human motivation is fluid- it can be lost very easily through a change in workplace circumstances or a loss of trust in leadership. A slump in motivation can also come when people are a bit bored at work, if they feel undercompensated, or when a few well-liked key players move on to new roles.
The good news is that just as motivation can deteriorate alarmingly quickly, so can it be generated. It actually can happen overnight- although in order to turn around a whole team it will normally take a bit longer.
Traditionally, managers tried to motivate their employees through extrinsic forcers, meaning factors that motivate from outside- like a salary increase or bonus schemes. These simple (albeit costly) motivation techniques can certainly be effective in certain situations, but the new trend is towards intrinsic drivers: that is that people are motivated to work hard because the job fulfils certain values they hold, or things they like doing. Intrinsic motivation is when people do the job because they like it, or see it as valuable to their future and consistent with their values.
We’ve included 9 ways to motivate your team. Some are extrinsic, most are intrinsic. The best managers will adapt a multi-faceted strategy to suit their own team.
- Ensure compensation is fair. You will have an extremely difficult time motivating employees who feel they are not being paid fairly for their efforts. Find out industry salary benchmarks and establish whether the slump in motivation is driven by money. This is an easy fix- but only if you have money to give! Possible other incentives could be flexible arrangements like working from home, family-friendly hours, or extra annual leave.
- Give employees some autonomy. According to bestselling motivational author Daniel Pink one of the three drivers of motivation at work is autonomy: feeling that you have some control. To fulfil this desire for autonomy, allocate projects to team members to run themselves, and resist micromanaging- while providing them with all the support they need to succeed.
- Allow them to master new skills. Daniel Pink also identifies ‘mastery’ as a key motivational driver in the workplace. Employees need to learn new skills- but importantly, they need to be skills that the employee values as being useful or valuable to them. Find out what your employees would like to learn, and match teachers with students throughout your team, or organise external training where possible. Your team will be stronger for it, and happier, too.
- Acknowledge the importance of ‘purpose’. The final motivator according to Pink is ‘purpose.’ Motivation at work is found when employees believe what they are doing has a greater purpose or meaning. If the employee isn’t motivated by the company’s work itself, consider creating a charity or volunteer scheme to bolster a sense of meaningful work.
- Break up big projects into small ones-with regular rewards. Research shows that most people lose momentum when chasing long-term goals. If your team is working on large projects with long-range deadlines, you need to break up those projects so that people are motivated to reach them, and celebrate regularly when you do.
- Incentive schemes. This can be financial bonuses, or competitions for dinners, sporting events, weekends away, or even leaving the office early on a Friday. Just make sure the prize is worth winning- and that everyone has a chance to win it. Don’t make it always about the highest performance, because your lower performers won’t be motivated by it as they know they’ll never win. You’re looking to motivate everyone, so be creative.
- Find out their true career objectives. Many employees lose motivation because they feel there are no new career prospects in sight. Even if it means losing them from your team in the long-term, find out what they want to do in the future and work with them to create a development plan that will provide the training and skills they’ll need. You will have a motivated and grateful employee in the short term- you could even agree to provide the training in return for a fixed term contract after which they can leave to use their new skills.
- Improve your management and leadership skills. It’s possible that their lack of motivation stems from your leadership style or management practices. This is an opportunity to develop and flex your own leadership style. Test some new tactics, here are a few to get you started: ask for their input, treat mistakes as learning opportunities, communicate the goals in a way they can identify with…and cut down on lengthy meetings if they’re not productive.
- Find out their ‘why’. The key to understanding your team members and where their motivation comes from lies in understanding what their deeper values are. If you listen well, you can pick up some of these in every day conversation. Alternatively ask this simple question, ‘What is important to you?’ and you will be surprised what you learn about team members even those you think you know incredibly well.
A team without motivation will not return results, and will ultimately cease being a team. As a manager, one of your greatest challenges is to ensure that your team regain their motivation through a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic drivers.
Are your managers using the right style of motivation for their team members? If not we can probably help. At Excel Communications we have delivered Leadership and Management training over 30 years on most continents in multiple languages. You can view the results we get for clients here. Alternatively call us on ++44 (0) 1628 488 854