You know that your team needs a change, a shift in attitude, and that your team members desperately need a manager that can take them to the next level and bring the best out of them. But how do you do it? Let’s take a step-by-step look.
Are today’s employees motivated?
Studies show us that only a small percentage of team members are actually thriving when they work:
- 13% of employees are engaged in their work.
- 24% are hostile towards their work and workplace.
- 63% are indifferent.
As a manager, if you are facing similar numbers, just imagine all the potential you have in front of you. How much your team can develop, how much they can bring to the project, and how much you can help your team members feel like they are achieving their goals in life; you just need to do one thing: motivate them.
Why is motivation important?
It allows you to activate all of the talent and skills within your team
If the majority of you team is not motivated, your team is underperforming. When we use our talents to the max and we feel gratitude from our managers for doing so, we start a wheel of positive performance. This need to excel is contagious inside the team, and it is the only way for the company to use talent and resources in a stable way. Managers with a thriving team report a 16% better overall performance.
One of the results in having a motivated team will be more efficient production and less costs of operations. The team needs to have the right qualifications and abilities, but the right motivation will take your team members to an entirely different level; in fact, 53% of motivated employees are more likely to experience career progression.
Your team’s goals can only be achieved when you are using the resources in your team correctly, when there is a cooperative and noncompetitive environment, when team members understand the goals and the purpose of their job, and when there is a high level of satisfaction. In fact, thriving employees report being 46% more satisfied with their jobs than other employees.
Having a sustainable and stable team is the dream of every manager. A team where people don’t just stay because they know the job well and are comfortable or because they are scared of finding a new job, but where employees stay loyal to the company because they are excited about the company’s purpose and they feel committed to the team. Motivated employees report a 32% increase in commitment to the organization and 125% less burnout, meaning that more than likely they will stay longer in your team and perform better.
How do I motivate my team?
1. You are the motor of change: be mindful
You, the manager, are the first one that needs to change. You are the first one that needs to be motivated and believe in what you are asking your team to do. Only by being authentic yourself will you be able to motivate your team. If you pretend, your team will notice and the effect will be even worse. Start by learning about yourself.
If we ask you to imagine a motivational leader, what comes to your mind?
Probably a person who, no matter how stressful the situation is, never lets his/her anger get out of control or maybe you think of a leader that you can trust and talk to, that listens to you, and that always makes informed and cautious decisions. These are qualities of a leader with a high degree of emotional intelligence; a person who is mindful, self-aware, self-regulatory, and empathetic.
Are you mindful?
If productivity rests on focused human attention, are you paying attention to your team and to yourself?
Mindfulness is a “non-judgmental, moment-to-moment awareness.” It means to know what is going on inside of you at each moment and being present all the time. It is a complex task in today’s world, but presence can be practiced and achieved. When you cultivate a mindful leadership, you will have the necessary tools to manage your life as you are living it. Mindfulness teaches you to recognize the emotions and feelings you are experiencing and to accept them; to be present and to pay attention to the current moment. Mindfulness is very useful when we face situations of high stress because it helps us manage our emotions and lower the impact that these emotions have on the people that surround us.
How can you become more mindful?
When we are self-aware, we know how we feel, and we are aware that our emotions and actions affect the people that surround us. When a leader is self-aware, he/she can see the big picture of his/her strengths and weaknesses, bringing a sense of humility that makes the person honest and real in front of the team.
Self-regulation is important, but if a person does too much self-control, they become unproductive; in the same way that self-awareness is important, it also needs to have a balance. If we listen too much to ourselves, we will become less active because we will focus too much on alertness.
How can you be more self-aware?
- Every day, write down the moment when you felt the most nervous and the calmest. Explain how your body felt and what kinds of thoughts you had at those moments. Writing down our thoughts helps us become more aware of them.
- Pause and slow down. When you feel angry or other strong negative emotions, pause and find out why you are feeling that way; did you get there because you made an assumption, or did you get there after receiving clear facts? Learn to differentiate between judgements and facts. Don’t let your judgements cloud your vision. Remember that you can always choose how you react to each situation.
One of the things that hurts motivation the most is when you, as a manager, are under a stressful situation that is obviously nerve-racking and unpredictable. We need our leaders to be under control all the time and to never, under any circumstance, attack others or make emotional rushed decisions. When a leader has control over oneself, he/she becomes an accountable person, but again, this regulation needs to be true and honest. Pretending to be under control but secretly grinding your teeth does not count because the team will notice it.
How can you improve your self-regulation?
- What are your values? Do you know what values are important to you? Is it ok for you to shout at your colleagues? What is respect for you? Spend some time thinking about what is and what is not ok for you so you can use these values as a compass.
- Practice being peaceful. The next time you are in a stressful situation, take notice of how you are acting. How is your body? Are you sweating? Are you breathing faster? Is your face turning red? Do you feel more body heat? Imagine yourself shouting at somebody in the room. Would that make you feel better? Feel relieved? If you picture yourself shouting at a colleague, you will probably feel embarrassed of yourself. Instead, take deep-breaths to calm yourself and try to explain your motives for being stressed to the rest of the colleagues in a non-aggressive way.
2. Identify the kind of motivation that will work in your team
Not all teams or people in your team find motivation in the same place. Help each person in your team to find what their true motivation is, what their role in the team is, and why they are there.
Learn about who the people in your team are. Use every feedback meeting, 1:1 meeting, and also group meetings to learn more about your team members and what their motivation is. The answer will not come to you on the first day you meet with them—trust wants time—but if you present yourself as an honest and true person, the people in your team will soon open up to you.
When talking to your team members, do not judge what they are saying as they are speaking, just listen, put all your effort and concentration into what the person is saying, look them in the eyes, and do not interrupt.
If you want to gather general information about team members and their aspirations, bring them into a positive mood, where they can freely imagine what they could do in the company without constraints. Ask open and general questions about how they see themselves in 5 years’ time; let their minds go free. After they have told you what they want to achieve, empower them so they can get there. More than likely, their ambitions probably include working really well and being key assets in the team; help them get there.
3. Start the motivation process
The easiest way to empower is delegation. Start there. Think of all the tasks you could have somebody in the team do and that he/she would like to do. Give that individual those tasks, and as soon as he/she does a good job on those, give more important tasks. Do not micromanage. Step back, and let your team members do their job without you supervising every little detail.
Remember to always listen to your team; if a person is overloaded with work, find a way that the person can delegate to somebody else so you can keep empowering them and they can keep doing jobs with more responsibility and fulfillment.
Lead by example
As we mentioned in our article about resonant leaders, energy, values, and habits rub off and are contagious. Show what you expect from your team by doing it yourself; doing so shows respect for your team members and sets examples.
Stress your team’s purpose
Repeat, in creative ways, why each person in the team is important and why the values and purpose of the team are important. Remind your team member why their hard work makes a difference to other people. In order to do so, you will need to share some information about clients, economical benefits, etc. Don’t be scared to be transparent, it will only help you.
Eliminate fear and push the limits
In order to feel excited and that we are growing, we need a small level of threat. Move your team out of their comfort zone, but not in a way that makes them feel afraid of what will happen if they don’t get to the desired goal. Move them out of their comfort zone by explaining the benefits of reaching the next level.
We hope these three steps have provided some practicality in your effort to motivate your team. When it comes to enhancing team’s quality, it definitely takes more than just executing the actions that have been suggested by experts. Listening with a open mind and judgement-free mentality is key to gaining valuable insights about your team’s health. Practise empathy and your leadership will go a long way.
Ready to start motivating your team? If you’re already in progress, let us hear what worked or did not work for you. We’re really excited about those stuffs!
PS: Have some burning questions to ask? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer every email.
Reference: Gretcher Spreitzer and Christine Porath “Creating Sustainable Performance”, Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb, 2012)
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