Written by MEP National Network’s Jessica McCune of MAMTC
Motivating a team is no small task, but it is a task that should be prioritized whenever possible. Without the individuals who make up your team, the team obviously wouldn’t exist. So it is vital that leaders take the time to nurture their teams, both as whole, and on an individual basis as well. Developing innovative ways to motivate your team can make a huge difference in the success and productivity of your team. Here are 7 ideas to help you motivate your team:
Schedule team-building activities
Offering only a competitive salary and a good benefits package isn’t enough for employees anymore. Motivating your employees to work as a cohesive team goes a long way to make for an enjoyable workplace, as well as encouraging productivity and high quality work. Team-building activities, especially those that are conducted outside of the office, helps everyone get to know each other on a personal level, while fostering team problem-solving skills and communication. It also helps your employees have a little fun at the same time! There are many kinds of team-building activities to choose from like volunteering with a local charity, go on a scavenger hunt in your city in teams, have a chili cook-off or pot luck and vote on the best dish, or have day full of games at the office that encourage teamwork and learning about each other.
Support your people
A team cannot thrive without the full support of its leader. Give your people the tools they need to achieve their goals. This can be as simple as providing the most relevant and timely information regarding a project or more in-depth training on something specific. Support should be both long-term and short-term. Having regular meetings to help boost productivity in the long run, but checking in on tight deadlines and making sure your team has everything they need to be successful is a great way to offer immediate support. Being supportive of your team as a whole, while certainly important, is not enough in and of itself. Teams are made up of individuals, so make sure you’re also supporting each individual within your team, as well as the whole team itself.
Offer opportunities for self-development
Your employees are more valuable to your team, organization, and themselves when they have opportunities to learn and develop new skills. Providing your team with the training they need to develop in their careers, and also to become more knowledgeable about the latest trends and technologies in your industry, is vital to the success of each team member. This will ultimately make your team much more successful as a whole.
Have you ever had a boss who was constantly looking over your shoulder while you were working? Undoubtedly, you have, as most people have. No one likes being micromanaged or second-guessed. One survey found that 38% of employees would rather take on unpleasant activities over sitting next to a micromanaging boss. Give your team clear, defined goals, and then allow them to determine the best way to achieve them. Having some insight as to what your team is doing is certainly important, but make sure you are not constantly hovering over your team and hindering their ability to perform their duties.
Avoid useless meetings
The average professional wastes 3.8 hours in unproductive meetings each week. Multiply that by how many people you have on your team and the number of wasted hours is surely staggering. Creating agendas for meetings ahead of time and distributing it in advance will help everyone be much more prepared. It’s important to only invite those people who truly need to attend to make the meeting productive. Having extra attendees who don’t necessarily need to be there can hinder productivity and lengthen meeting times. Start the meeting on time and end it as quickly as possible. Keep the conversations relevant and valuable to everyone in attendance. You can also adopt and promote a ‘walk out’ policy. Few meetings need to run longer than 30 minutes. So if a meeting runs longer than 30 minutes, let people know they are free to return to their work. Also, you can allow people to leave if at any point they feel they are no longer gaining value. It’s much more important to have your employees working on something worthwhile, rather than sitting in meetings listening to information that they won’t be able to use.
Don’t punish failure
Everyone is bound to make mistakes sometimes. What is key about making mistakes, is learning valuable lessons from each one so we don’t continue to make the same mistakes repeatedly. Your team members will make mistakes at some point. It is important to encourage them to learn something from their mistakes, and try again. If people are afraid to fail, they will hide problems. When people are not afraid of failing, they bring problems to light much faster, which means there is more of an opportunity to find solutions. Reward your employees when they bring problems to the team’s attention, because this is instrumental in ensuring a problem is met with a timely solution.
Show your appreciation
Here are the two most powerful words you can use as a leader: thank you. Showing your team that you appreciate them is vital to the success of your team. People who feel they are not appreciated are much more likely to leave their jobs to search for a new job where their contributions will be appreciated. So, how often do you tell your team ‘thank you?’ You don’t have to make grand gestures to show your appreciation. A simple three line e-mail expressing your thanks and appreciation for all of their hard work can go a long way in boosting morale. It’s also important to recognize individual team members who have gone above and beyond expectations in front of the team as whole. This helps foster a culture of recognition and encourages the team to share their appreciate with one another. And never forget the power of a handwritten thank you note. This personal touch in a digital age can make a huge impact.