Keep Your Team Motivated
This is the million dollar question. I’ve been managing high performing teams for 10 years and this is the aspect of leadership that I get asked about the most. There’s no secret sauce or perfect management tool for team success but here are 4 golden rules I urge anyone in management to follow.
The most important thing, above all others, is to select the right people to be on your team. This is the whole ball game. Make this your number one goal. Populate your team with the people who show you energy and commitment at interview. Don’t get hung up on their previous experience or results but investigate their enthusiasm, positivity and drive.
Dig into what makes them tick and what they want and be honest about what you can offer. Make sure the role you are recruiting for chimes with their interests and needs. Don’t be tempted to offer a role to someone who is over qualified or has a stated interest in something different. Present a compelling vision of how they can contribute and what makes joining your team a good opportunity.
Commit to helping them develop their skills and advance their career. People will show up and give it their best if they genuinely get satisfaction from the work they produce and can see a clear path forward. Motivating your team is easy if they are happy, eager and ready to get stuck in from the outset. Now you just have to maintain this.
Generate a collaborative environment where voices are heard. Make sure the talent in your team feels valued and listened to. Meetings should be interactive and discursive so always aim for two way dialogue and debate. Meeting time should not be spent simply handing down task based orders or demanding information; this is dehumanising - this is how machines work.
Always have a clear direction but garner support with a show of hands. Be prepared to change course if your team have a better idea and don’t be frightened to be proven wrong. Mistakes are just as valuable as victories in business but you need collective responsibility and group cohesion to move forward after a setback. Discuss what went wrong and how you can all improve next time. Avoid the blame game. This will kill morale, halt innovation and create mistrust within the team.
It can be hard to come to work every day and everyone has ups and downs. Make your office, or workspace, as positive as possible. Smile and say good morning to everyone no matter how busy you are. Find ways to make the environment more enjoyable (our part of the office has a near constant supply of candy on offer which is bad for our waistlines but great for morale).
Take time out to reward great work and provide encouragement when things aren’t going so well. Shield your team from unhelpful external pressure and strive to maintain an upbeat atmosphere even when the results aren’t where you’d like them to be. Fear is only ever a short term motivator so focus on the carrot and leave your stick at home.
Socialising is key to team bonding so get everyone together for time out of the office and make an effort to really get to know one another. Don’t underestimate how much difference the small things can make, like doing a coffee run for the whole team or shutting up early on a Friday. Never ask more of your team than you’re prepared to give yourself and work hard to earn their respect.
Get Out of the Way
Once you’ve got your hand picked team and you’ve created a place where people want to be and they feel valued, your job is done. Get out of the way. You work for them now, not the other way round.
Think about what they need (training, resources, better air conditioning, new laptops etc) and make it your job to get it for them. Listen to their ideas and help where you can, provide input when you have something valuable to offer, challenge their thinking by asking smart questions and push back when you need to.
Promote talent and hand over responsibility for projects. Be vocal about your key players and champion them to the wider organisation. Support your team with everything they do and make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed or out on a limb but as much as possible, get out of their way. Nothing is more motivating or exhilarating than the feeling of ownership.
Micromanagement is tedious and self defeating. If you find yourself needing to look over someone’s shoulder then either they aren’t right for the job or you aren’t right for management. Give your team the tools they need to fulfil their potential and then let them at it. They will come in every morning pumped up and ready to go and all you need to do is refill the candy.