Motivation undulates, just as the best project plans do. There are peaks and valleys and wonderful times when everything hums at a nice steady space. But as realists, we know the bump in the road always comes: Individuals get distracted, burnt out or morale dips. Here are some savvy yet simple tips and teamwork skills that will motivate and re-energize your team.
- Be enthusiastic. As a leader, your role is like being the host of a party. And the host always sets the tone. The team is likely to follow your lead in how you exude attitude, energy, enthusiasm, you name it. Even if you’re having a blah day, there’s always something you can rally around. Find that positive spark and share it with your team. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- Speak concretely to core values. Talk to your team about how a task they’re working on today is creating the kind of success that they—and the organization—really care about.
- Celebrate the small stuff. Make your team members feel successful about something they’ve recently done. The big stuff is obvious, so let’s concentrate on the everyday triumphs, form the well-crafted email to the pointed comment in a challenging meeting to muscling through an unexpected challenge. We’re all more motivated when we feel good about ourselves.
- Pique someone’s curiosity. Instead of repeatedly telling people what to do, pique their brains by asking them a fruitful question that inspires them to solve (or see) a problem in a new way. Most people love taking on a challenge that is in their area of expertise to solve.
- Ask people for their advice and feedback. If you notice the team’s energy is flagging, or someone’s just not having a great day, bring them in on a problem you’ve been trying to solve. We all like to be part of the plan and the solution. The more people feel involved, the more they’ll rise to the occasion.
- Get to know team members. Have a one-on-one walking meeting, go out for coffee, ask a colleague what they did over the weekend. When you show interest in someone as a person and then integrate that information into your work together, people feel like they matter—and their work will show it.
- Provide hearty challenges. Studies say that team members experience more pride and satisfaction from accomplishments derived from steep challenges. So, lay it on! Invite your team members to push themselves, individually and together. You might even see them salivating a little bit.
- Mix things up. If it’s been too same-ol’-same-ol’ around the office, find a way to insert a fresh hit of energy by doing something different. When you’re working toward a deadline, it’s easy for everyone to put their heads down and just go; but once burnout sets in, it’s hard to get any really creative high-quality work produced (or your energy revived). So even if it feels like you’re “wasting time” by doing something fun and creative—it will profit you in the long run.
- Don’t forget to laugh. Sometimes we just have to stop taking ourselves and our work so seriously. Allowing a sense of humor into the workplace is one of the best ways to relieve stress, provide some perspective and give everyone a little break from the heave-ho of an intense project.
How do you motivate your team members?