One of the most difficult parts of leading a team is keeping everyone motivated and committed toward a common goal. As anyone who has led a team can tell you, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for inspiring a team to perform. Every individual is unique and will be motivated by different things. That said, here are a few elements that can go a long way toward motivating your team:
- One-on-one relationships
- Meaningful work
- Opportunities for growth and learning
- Making an example of yourself
You might think that your team members’ motivation has to come from you. But the fact is, external motivators are much less effective than internal ones. Perhaps the most important piece for motivating your team members is knowing them as individuals and knowing what their core values are. The more you can tap into an individual’s core values and align their work with those values, the more self-motivation that individual will have to achieve any given work goal. It creates a self-reinforcing structure when one’s values are reflected in one’s work and one’s work reflects one’s values.
The more you can tap into an individual’s core values and align their work with those values, the more self-motivation that individual will have.
One way to get at what your own, and others’, core values are is to use an assessment tool like the Core Values Assessment (PDF) from The Center for Ethical Leadership. From there, it is a matter of keeping these core values in mind when assigning projects and tasks. This will go a long way toward creating the next important piece for motivation… meaningful work.
It is important to create an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to do meaningful work. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all definition: Meaningful work is work that is meaningful to a particular individual. That’s why it’s so important to get a grasp on what inspires individuals and to maximize those most meaningful tasks in their day-to-day.
In addition to this, an important piece of creating meaningful work is articulating a clear vision for the company as well as for each project along the way and helping team members understand how their core values align with that vision. And keep in mind that while it’s impossible to completely eliminate tedious work, the tedium should be minimized and spread evenly so that no one person is always performing it.
Opportunities for Growth and Learning
To keep people engaged in their work, it is important to keep them challenged. A significant majority of workers (87% for millennials and 69% for non-millennials) rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job. This means that people are hungry for opportunities to learn new skills or deepen and improve existing ones.
There are a couple of different ways to incorporate learning into the culture of your company. You can bring in outside experts to train your team in the latest developments in your company’s field. You can also create opportunities for colleagues to learn from each other through peer-to-peer classes. These classes provide much-needed team building and can range in topic from the professional to the recreational. They also allow the peer teacher to practice important presentation skills while their colleagues learn the new skills at hand.
Whatever approach you take, the important thing is to keep your team members challenged and engaged.
Make An Example of Yourself
As with all aspects of leadership, what you do is much more important than what you say. It is important to be explicit about your expectations, but it is equally, if not more important, to demonstrate your expectations with your own actions. Set an example for how you want your team members to approach their work by being inspired in your own approach to the work. Let your team see your passion for what you do. In getting to know their core values, show yours as well. This means showing up every day with a willingness to do what you expect others to do because nothing will kill the passion of your team quicker than the perception that you’re phoning it in.
What you do is much more important than what you say.
Passion can arise organically, but it needs nurturing as well. Keep your team inspired to perform at the top of their game by getting to know them individually. Understanding what is meaningful to each team member will help you craft and cultivate a work environment that is rewarding and profitable. A rewarding work environment is one that is supportive of strengths while also challenging employees to grow and learn.
Finally, set an example for your team through your own engagement with the work. Find your inspiration and your team will follow your lead!