Motivating team members is a challenge whose parameters are constantly changing. As a team leader, the strategies you employ on any given day to maintain productivity and keep workers focused can change depending on the workplace climate, assigned tasks and looming project deadlines.
Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that their primary motivation is to “change the world” and to build something lasting, not to make a lot of money. But the conventional wisdom is that employees work for money, above all else. You are only as good as your team. It is your job as a leader to inspire and motivate your team to reach greatness. However, I believe that non-cash motivators may be more effective in the long term than financial incentives. Employees value having strong leaders, who incentivize them to do their best, just as much – if not more – than money.
- Lead with competence, and not by your title or position: You will motivate your employees better if you mentor them, encourage them and make partners out of them. Your company is sure to benefit this way. If you want to survive the tough economy, that’s exactly the kind of leadership pattern you need for your organization.
- Don’t micromanage: A true leader will step back and let his team do their jobs without standing over their shoulders. Encourage autonomy in your team and they will be even more motivated by it. If you made the correct hiring decision then you need to trust your team members to perform. There is no need for micromanagement – if you made the wrong choice you need to take responsibility and correct it.
- Lead by example: Your habits and leadership will rub off on your team. If you practice poor work habits like always leaving early or taking breaks outside stipulated times, you aren’t leading by example. You should never dip below the bar you set and expect your team to perform at.
- Communicate: Leadership is basically influencing others, and this cannot be achieved without effective communication. If you’re struggling with communicating to your employees, first work on your ability to influence individuals by choosing words that are impactful to carry your message. Then you need to figure out how to communicate to a larger audience.
- Listen: The most effective leaders are the ones who take the time to listen not just to their team members’ words but to the hidden meaning behind them. Remember that during good times and bad, sometimes your employees just need someone to talk to. Communicate to them that you are always waiting with open ears.
- Admit your mistakes: You are not going to have the answer for everything, and you will never be always right. This is perfectly fine. Instead of pretending to always have the answer, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate effective problem solving to your team.
- Praise and Correct Employees: A leader’s ability to praise and provide guidance for employees has a significant influence over morale and motivation. Praising employees in full view of other workers encourages employees to perform up to similar levels of productivity to gain comparable accolades. Conversely, correcting employee behaviors in private preserves worker egos, reduces employee embarrassment and allows you, as a leader, to provide focused guidance without the distractions of other team members. Disciplined workers retain feelings of respect for you as a leader and work harder for you because you take the time to provide them with clear steps to improve performance.
- Don’t lead with fear: Your team will not be inspired if you use fear as a motivator. Great leaders coach and teach their team — they are right there with them — not on the sidelines screaming and instilling fear.
- Be Positive: As a team leader, you can help motivate your team members by projecting a positive attitude. Your team members can sense your confidence level regarding performance expectations. If you waver or project negative feelings towards team member performance, productivity can suffer. Adjusting project completion dates and team member roles within the group can sustain your positive feelings towards the project without putting any negativity into the operation.