From what I have experienced having been in different leadership positions along the way I always felt as if motivating the team is one of the most important tasks that I was faced with. From what I have read, those that study leadership and write on the subject are quick to point out that this is also the case for several reasons: boost in production, morale in the workplace and reduced turnover are all benefits of motivation.
Probably the most overlooked way to motivate a team is through communication. And effective communication can empower an entire team as it gives them an increased sense of belonging and responsibility. Employee motivation improves as employees feel more comfortable with their working relationships. Here are a few strategies to improve communication and motivate others to become better.
Schedule – schedule weekly meetings for no other reason than to simply open up the lines of communication. At the most basic level it gives the team the sense that as a leader you care about their opinions and will also value their feedback. The priority here is to open the floor to any questions, comments or concerns.
Loop – consistent and effective communication with your team will not only empower and encourage them to make their own decisions but will also build trust and loyalty. Just be honest and straightforward and don’t try to spin the truth.
Clear directions – many leaders find it difficult to set clear directions and then stand-by those directions. Communication needs to reinforce and provide a strategy with what you’re attempting to do. The best communicators in the workplace find ways to communicate to keep employees on course and make sure that the objectives are being carried out.
Feedback – the majority of leaders fail to give constructive feedback to their teams simply because they fear how the employees will react. To help resolve this, the leader should provide frequent feedback so the small issues don’t grow into much larger ones. From my own experience I have found it helpful when a leader would simply ask “how often would you like to receive feedback?”. In general most employees would say monthly or weekly…very few would respond by saying annually. Nobody wants to be surprised during their annual review.
Personal – share stories of your own personal failures and successes. This is a great way to lift the spirits of anybody on the team that might be in the need of a boost. You will also build a heightened sense of community by doing so.
Interest – if a team member approaches you as the team leader and shares a particular concern…ask what you can do to help address the issue. Ask if they have a solution in mind. This is a great way to show commitment to solving the problems of the employees and helps them feel like a valued member of the team.
Encourage – schedule time to meet with the team and encourage them to brainstorm and offer their input. Everyone should be available to generate ideas and participate in this discussion. Generally, employees want to help solve problems and give them a chance to feel that they’re being heard.
Open – early on in my career a team I was assigned to would encourage open lines of communication to prevent low morale and this prevented any type of toxic work environment. This particular leader always let the employees know that there are open lines of communication and as a result everyone was comfortable and brought forward problems and issues.
Kindness – leaders should never belittle, threaten or embarrass an employee in front of anyone. Rather they should only offer improvement opportunities. It’s just common sense that when an employee feels under attack and caught off guard their motivation is going to suffer. On the flip-side when employees are rewarded or provided an opportunity to grow you can bet they are going to feel empowered!