Every leader knows that motivation is an integral part of effective teamwork. How do we get a team of motivated employees? Many books on leadership explore this popular topic, but the solution may be found in three everyday interpersonal skills that almost sound too simple to be true, but at the same time taking more of the focus away from the self by focusing on others – somewhat counterintuitive for a society where personal achievement and advancement are highly valued:
- Ask: The best way to know what motivates an employee is to ask. Find out what an individual team member values. One person may value a flexible workweek in terms of time and place to work, while another may value monetary compensation or a ticket to the Super Bowl. To assume an employee values what you like, is to lose an important opportunity to learn more about their values and what will motivate them. Once you have verified what is important to a team member, you already have the answer what to do next time when the same person goes above and beyond. It does not always need to cost something. I have often heard how the sincere handwritten thank you note from a boss was cherished when someone exceeded expectations.
- Put the needs of your team above your own: This may sound out of line in a world where everyone is encouraged to climb the ladder to the top, no matter what it takes to get there. As a responsive leader you will treat your employees fairly and put their needs and that of the organization above of your own personal comfort and ego. When they excel, celebrate, when they fail, provide support to get up and make this an opportunity to learn and grow. Leaders who have done so, have lower turnover and team members with an outstanding level of loyalty.
- Give your team autonomy: Having freedom to take initiative naturally increases the excitement and motivation of most people. If this is the case, why don’t more leaders do that? Usually this requires a manager who is comfortable to delegate and not having a need to control every aspect of a process. It takes a willingness to allow for freedom within the given parameters and objectives of the larger project. This kind of leader makes sure the passion of the individual is in alignment with the organization’s direction. He or she will give some clear boundaries, resources and assist with networking to help with execution. This experienced leader will help to remove obstacles and mentor during challenges. In the end this leader will stand back and say: “You did an awesome job!” and give the credit to the team member for the success of the project. Are you willing to do what it takes to motivate your team members?