One of the most formidable resources a company can count on and leverage with great efficiency is a properly motivated team. This doesn’t mean that the entire organization has to consist of elite crack commandos of highly-compensated MBA mercenaries (though that does sound pretty awesome!), rather, a group of everyday folks, properly-incentivized, can work wonders for your bottom line. To that end, here are five techniques that you can use to promote a culture of excellence and dedication among your team members.
Set Clearly Defined Goals
This sounds like a no-brainer, and obviously every task at hand must advance towards something, but you’d be surprised at how many organizations just throw things over the wall and hope for the responsible team to somehow end up achieving success. At the very least, priorities must be defined; when nothing is a priority, everything is a priority. This is where a project mindset comes into play: define the major milestones in the task at hand and assign resources to address them with confidence. Without goals, procrastination sets in and that’s just the beginning of the slippery slope of mediocre results.
Lead with an Unwavering Vision
Closely related to goal definition is the vision impressed on the team. Not only do the individual team members need to be aware of what their efforts are achieving within a project environment, but also what success means for the organization as a whole. Though compartmentalization on sensitive projects may sometimes preclude a complete picture of success in a team member’s mind, the knowledge that their efforts are part of bigger triumphs is absolutely necessary for proper motivation. So make sure that the vision that the team should embrace is communicated clearly and often.
Promote Work/Life Balance
Talking about work-life balance has become ubiquitous these days, and not taking it into consideration in the context of a team would be highly irresponsible. Not only has it been shown to relieve mental stress and improve physical well-being, but it actually increases productivity and raises morale. Additionally, there won’t be resentment among team members if they know that they have the necessary flexibility to not miss important family events and routine medical appointments.
2020 showed us that businesses can run successfully remotely and that many of us have different habits that can compound our productivity. A team leader should encourage individual members to work out of their nutshell and to provide everyone with new ideas and designs. During my time managing engineers in Corporate America, I made it clear that I wouldn’t micromanage and didn’t expect my team to work robotically attached to their stations. As long as the work was done on time and under budget, I was a happy camper, no matter what habits inspired genius.*
Reward your team
Who wouldn’t want to reward their team members with financial bonuses? After all, it’s through the combined efforts of the team that the result should please and delight stakeholders. However, lacking authority to dole out cash does not prevent you from enthusiastically recognizing individuals’ efforts and celebrate milestones, if even with just a few words: “Thank you, team, for setting a great example for your coworkers“, can go a long way in boosting morale all around.
One more thing…Obtain feedback!
I know the title of this article talked about 5 easy ways to encourage your team, but… what’s the point of trying out various encouragement techniques if you’re not sure that they’re actually making a positive impact? Facilitating honest feedback from your team in the office will enable you as their leader to know any issues that they may jeopardize a project. This helps them to communicate freely and creates a culture of an honest and positive workplace.
*I later found out that one of my team members’ inspirational habits included a pre-work ritual of dumping out the contents of a bag of M&Ms on his desk and separating them by color… with the the M-side of each piece facing down… but hey, if that worked, who am I to judge?