How do you motivate your team?

Oct 15, 2015

“Tina, I’m feeling frustrated with my team – how can I get them to do what I want them to do? How do I motivate them?”

You can’t.

Motivation doesn’t work. Motivation is a PUSH energy – it implies that you are trying to get people to do something. And no one likes feeling that they are being forced or pushed to do things. Nor do you like having to ‘drag’ them along!

What you want to do instead is inspire people. Great leaders inspire their team which PULLS them along. They can’t help but want to serve and do great work.

There are 3 steps to inspiring your team (vs. motivating)

  1. Engage

You need to engage your team in your vision. They need to feel connected to what you are doing and why it matters. And it needs to matter to them!

Vision is the missing link for many of the clients we work with who struggle with their team. They either don’t have a vision yet (and need to create one), or they have a vision but have never shared it with their team.

Without a clear vision their work with you is just another task on a list, and it will be treated as such. When you have a clear vision and your team is engaged then magic can happen. They KNOW why the work matters. They are inspired to get things done in service of the vision.

And if they aren’t inspired by the vision? Then they might not be the right person for you.

  1. Align

How can your team members do their best work with you? Are they able to bring their talents, their strengths to their role every day? Or are they in a role where they are bored or trying to do stuff that they simply aren’t good at.

I used to do a lot of interviews as a corporate recruiter and the #1 reason why people were looking for new jobs is not what you would think. It was rarely about the money, rather it was about them being able to do work that matters. To learn. To grow. To get to play in their strengths (instead of constantly trying to fix their weaknesses).

If a person is in a role that does not align with their strengths they won’t do great work. Ensure that your team members are in the right role for who they are. That they have room to grow. To bring their best every day. Give them a place to do what they love and they will bend over backwards for you (and the vision!)

  1. Expect

You have engaged them in the vision. They are in a role that is aligned with their strengths. You now have to set clear expectations.

An expectation is simply letting a person know what success looks like. What exactly do they need to deliver – and when – to create success in their role?

For many people this means going a layer deeper in your communications. It might mean being more specific than you think you need to be. As much as we would love our team to read our minds (hehe) they can’t – and as leaders we need to take the time to help our team see EXACTLY what they need to do in service of the vision.

We need to set clear goals with each person. We need to do weekly meetings to keep everyone accountable and on track. We need to check-in with them to see how they are feeling about their work – what else do they need? It’s not about ‘chasing them down’ – it’s about serving them so that they can bring their best to the table.

My team members have been with me for years – some since day one. They do AMAZING work and it’s easy to think that I’m lucky but I’m not. They are committed to the vision of the company, almost more so than I am at times! We are always working to ensure that they get to operate in their strengths – they get to continually learn and grow. And they are clear on their expectations.

If things aren’t working out for some reason we come back to these 3 steps, look at what needs to change and quite often it is fixed quickly and simply.

Questions or comments? Post them here and I will answer them personally.



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