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How do I Motivate My Team

People are complicated and so are you. Often we look at everyone else around us and try to change all of them, thinking it will solve all of the problems. We analyze others, give them feedback to change in their performance reviews and monitor that progress. While all of that is helpful for them and gives feedback on what they can work on, it is important to consider another factor. In reality, you need to look in the mirror FIRST, then evaluate and coach your team.

I have had several managerial experiences and all of them have been very different. Even the best of employees can be challenging for a manager. I learned from the previous positions in a variety of companies that due to the various skills and interests, there are varying levels of support required for those employees. It is important to know when to hover (aka micromanage) vs. support or monitor. As an employee takes on a new role (whether it be a new position in the company, new to the company or new responsibilities within a current position), it is important to carefully determine where their skills and knowledge fall. Do not use the same method of managing for all the variation and do not use the same managerial preferences you have for one employee on all the others or you will fail and your employees will leave you or the company all together. Most importantly, do not assume they like to be managed the same way you like to be managed from your leadership.

LISTEN FIRST. Before you decide on any approach, you must listen to the employee(s). Let them talk about anything and everything without any judgement. This will first give you an indication of how they like to be managed, what motivates them and potential areas where they will need improvement.

BE EMPATHETIC. You don’t have to be a shoulder to cry on, but certainly show that you care about the current situations that they are dealing with. Even during tough times that employees deal with, strong employees will still work hard for a manager that really cares. They can easily be distracted with personal issues, but your support and flexibility will pay you back tenfold.

BE THE EXAMPLE. There is nothing more de-motivating than a manager that says one thing and does another. If you say you will do something, DO IT. If you really cannot do something or tell them something due to confidentiality, tell them and then really remain confidential. Any expectation you have of an employee (time off, breaks, project management, etc.) should be managed for you as well.

SUPPORT. Understanding that the employees cannot make all decisions and need back up, be sure to support the team when they need it. Teams immediately get frustrated when their managers back down when conflict arises or if they say they will support the team, but never do. You will lose employees quickly when this important element is missed because they will be completely disengaged.

Most importantly, don’t believe that instilling fear into your team is beneficial. I have found that fear of the manager takes away motivation, removes any new ideas from being introduced, reduces work place efficiency and most likely increases retention. Studies have shown that most people leave a job because of their manager. (Reference Forbes Article)

SHARE YOUR VISION. All teams need to know the direction of the company, the vision of the organization, the goals of the team and how they all link together. According to a 2012 Gallup Study, “of 3,000 U.S. workers, only about four of 10 employees know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from their competitors.”

Similar to the Navy, Army, Marines, etc., everyone must be marching in alignment, know the plan of attack or the missions fail. In their cases, that would be lives. Companies must take the approach in the same manner to ensure people all know their roles, actions and execution plan or the company will fail to delivery and people can lose their jobs due to the loss in revenues.

GIVE TEAMS THEIR BHAGs. Assign Challenging Goals. BHAGs are Big Hairy Audacious Goals. It can feel impossible, but it is possible when many facets of the company work together for a common goal. For example, a team member can’t do it alone, however, with support from two different areas, they can succeed.

Be sure certain that other departments are also tied into similar goals where needed. For example, if you want a team member to make major changes in purchasing that requires supplier quality to make process changes as well, combine efforts and assign both groups the same goals. Once your vision and purpose is understood and the goals are properly linked, your team will take the company to a neve level of greatness.

DEVELOP EVERYONE. Even if an employee isn’t ready for the next promotion or not interested in a promotion, everyone should be learning. While a team member may be the “steady Eddie” or stable long term member, they should still stretch to learn.

Working with your top talent is extremely beneficial to the company and rewarding personally as you see them grow and develop. Keep focused on their needs and work with them individually in addition to pushing them into challenging projects. Continuously put material in front of them to develop themselves on their own. For example, randomly send articles on leadership, project management, etc. or suggest some books to read. Assign mentors (besides you) that will help them as well.

So, motivating people isn’t the easiest task, however, these guidelines will take you far. Continue to develop yourself in these areas as you take on the challenge of mentoring and/or leading others. Find passion inside you to demonstrate these qualities and team members will respect you, follow you and demonstrate higher than above expectations.

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