Unfortunately, sometimes a team is uninspired. To succeed, workers need a sense of play and purpose. Without joy, without goals they can lose interest. As a manager, you know that costs your company money. So if you’re wondering how to motivate a team at the workplace, here are some ideas.
Communicate More Clearly
Misunderstood directives cost companies over $26,000 per employee in lost productivity. Your goal should be maintaining a consistent dialogue with your workers. Ask for their feedback, don’t just tell them what you think. Employ active listening skills –– paraphrasing their statements and asking questions rather than just making points or speeches.
Although you need to delegate that shouldn’t mean retreating to your office and letting others do the work. They need to see you roll up your sleeves and dig in –– especially if the task is unappealing. That can mean sticking around for inventory or making cold calls.
Developing good rapport with your staff will not only earn you respect but make it easier to share your vision. Of course, bosses who want to be everyone’s friend are usually creepy (or Michael Scott). Still, if you’re wondering how to motivate a team at the workplace, taking the time to get to know your staff as individuals is a great way to do it.
Accept that each one has a different style of working and communicating and play to their strengths rather than complain about their weaknesses. Whether your office door is real or metaphorical, it should be truly open. Don’t just say it, mean it. Invite workers into your space for reasons other than performance issues. The only way to know what your employees really think about something is to ask them and really care about their answers.
Treat Failure Less Dearly
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust millions of unprepared workers into remote work. While many studies suggest productivity has actually improved away from office distractions, for some people working from home is deeply demotivating. Worse, one study found when people had no choice in where they worked, total motivation dropped 17 points. So companies with some of the best corporate cultures plummeted to some of the worst. Unfortunately, many companies focused on tactical work –– what employees label “rote assignments.” That means workers have very strict procedures they need to follow while managers appear to be overseeing a productive team. The downside is that those workers soon stop creatively solving problems and do the bare minimum to get by. And remember, even now many workers are still coping with the emotional and economic pressure that causes workers to feel anxious, depressed, and disinterested.
Empower your employees by giving them some of your power. Don’t micromanage. Let them develop their own ways of completing tasks. Give them both autonomy and accountability. Listen to their ideas and let them pursue new solutions. Not every idea will work. So what? The innovations we take for granted today all sprang from a series of failures. Shortly after the New England Patriots failed to reach the Super Bowl, Tom Brady wrote on Instagram, “We’ve been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won’t show — the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about.” He added that in both life and football, “failure is inevitable” and “you don’t always win.”
The next year Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl victory in 18 years. Not to overextend the sports analogies but keep in mind how often talented players or workers leave because they feel underpaid and underappreciated. Even among workers who are engaged, one out of four would leave for just a five percent bump in pay. Yes, many millennials value flexibility over salary but that doesn’t mean they’ll remain happy and motivated if you consistently underpay them.
Motivating a team takes dedication and discipline. It can be demanding but it’s also fulfilling. Besides, no one said being a manager was easy.
One of the best feelings in the world is bringing a hard-to-solve problem to a coworker who offers an elegant solution you never considered. Even solitary introverts appreciate the value in collaboration. It’s why most TV shows have writers’ rooms. It’s why an incredible individual like Steve Jobs would proclaim, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
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