One of the most challenging tasks that a leader faces is motivating their team, especially in times of organizational distress. Emphasizing what the team needs to do or should be doing is not usually an effective method. Neither is threatening people’s jobs. You may influence their behavior in the short-term, but these methods will not work over the long-term. They are likely to destroy morale and they may serve to alienate your team leaving them doing half-hearted and less than stellar work.
In part one of this key note, I have three tips to help you motivate others. You’ll find three additional tips in part two.
1. Model What You Want To See
People are motivated to do what needs to be done when they see that others are committed to the cause as well. This means that, as a leader, you may occasionally need to get in the trenches to help get the work done, or at least to help figure out how to get it done. For example, if you want to see your team improve in the area of problem solving, involve them in coming up with a solution to a problem. Demonstrate how you go through that process, then empower them to take over the process. Once they have found a solution, acknowledge their work. This accomplishes two things. It clarifies what you are looking for from them and it shows them that they can come to you for help if they get stuck. These two things can remove barriers to your team being motivated to take action or to do new things.
2. Be Passionate, Not Pessimistic
Show a genuine appreciation for the work you do and the work your team produces. Be committed to the work and to the organization. Don’t act like this is just a job in front of your team or you will find that will start to believe that and act that way to. If you have genuine passion about what you, you’re your people will pick up on this. And, your passion can become contagious. Care about your work. Celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Pull lessons from the failures and mistakes, but quickly shift the focus to the positive. Look toward the future with confident expectation. The more optimistic you are, the more optimistic your team will be. Similarly, it will be difficult to motivate people if you are not motivated and engaged.
3. Know What Motivates Others
Tuning in to what is important and meaningful for members of your team will help you to know how to motivate them. This requires listening to them and observing their behaviors. Consider their goals. If you know someone desires to be promoted or moved to a new position, how can you utilize this information to motivate them? Is there a project on which people are hesitant to take the lead but you know could position the right person for other opportunities? Let that person know that while you can’t make any guarantees, the project could help get them noticed by the right people.
Do you have team members who respond well to public accolades? If so, be sure to acknowledge their contributions around other people. Are there people who feel valued when they are included? Find opportunities to include them in discussions leading up to your decisions. It doesn’t have to be an official meeting or making them part of a committee. Simply asking their opinion as you casually stop by their office may help you to get their support.
When you learn how to tune in to and meet the needs of your team, they will go out of their way to support you and move your vision forward.
Now, please know, I am not suggesting you manipulate or take advantage of people. I am suggesting that you get to know your people and use that knowledge to develop a mutually beneficial working relationship that supports your organization’s goals.
Be sure to read part two of this key note to get the other three keys to help you get your team moving in the direction you want them to go.