How to keep your team motivated

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Management Today

What do you believe about the people you manage?

Are they full of untapped potential, ambitious to develop their skills at work and motivated to bring the best of themselves to their careers? Or are they necessary components of a well-functioning machine, requiring set targets, rewards and firm feedback in order to deliver the high performance that, ultimately, yields results for your organisation?

This may seem an overly simplistic choice of management philosophies, but understanding which side of the line you tend to fall can provide useful information about the pros and cons of your approach to employee motivation.

Our own perspective leans towards the first option. People want their work to matter more than ever, particularly given the blurring of professional and home lives during the pandemic. It’s the role of a manager not to take responsibility for motivating the individuals in their team but, instead, to create a context within which people can motivate themselves.

This is hard to achieve at the best of times, but can seem impossible via webcam; what can you do to create this context right now? Focusing less on task achievement for its own sake, and more on personal connection with and within the team, will help build psychological safety, willingness to experiment and desire to contribute. 

Here are four practical approaches that will help you to do this.

Facilitate collaboration

Provide structured opportunities for your team to come together virtually to consider and find solutions to challenges. Be clear about the desired outcomes of the conversation, go out of your way to enable contributions from everyone, and see yourself as the conductor of the discussion rather than the main player.  

Give people a voice

Some people will talk more than others, but that doesn’t mean that you’re always hearing the best ideas. Give individuals personalised briefs to report back on. Divide larger groups into breakout rooms with specific goals. Call people out by name. This will both keep people ‘on their toes’ and show that you want to involve everyone.

Take pride in the team

Make time to celebrate wins before moving onto the next project. Look for opportunities to learn from success, failure, and everything in between, and reinforce purpose as much as you can.

When people understand the positive impact of what they’re doing together, they’ll invest more of themselves in doing it.

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