Motivation is a tricky thing. It’s hard to start and get motivated, and it’s hard to sustain that motivation. To really keep motivated, you need a long-term plan. But even a good long-term plan can be sabotaged if you act the wrong way. When leading a team, motivation is key. You already know they can do the job and do it well, otherwise you wouldn’t have assigned the team in the first place. But getting them to do it, be proud of the work they put in, and get out, can be a challenge. What you may not realize is that you, the leader, may be sabotaging yourself and your team. It’s surprisingly easy to find yourself getting into bad habits. Fortunately, you can lead by example. Here are five ways to avoid hurting your team’s motivation, and why.
One: Using only monetary rewards.
Now let’s face it, there’s no substitute for good pay for a good job. But studies actually show that praise and commendation from leaders is even better at motivating employees than a raise. Think about this: people brag to their friends about a promotion faster than they’ll brag about a raise. That’s because a promotion is recognition of the hard work they’re putting in. If you make your employees feel appreciated, they’ll be loyal to you. Don’t accompany cold cash with a cold shoulder.
Two: Criticizing your team too much.
Part of being a good manager is knowing how much to manage and how much to let the members of your team do what they’re good at. As I just mentioned, you can go a long way by praising your team members. The converse is also true: criticize your team members and they’ll want to do less. If your team members are constantly anxious about doing the wrong thing and getting a tongue lashing, they will be less likely to stick their neck out. In a situation like that, they might just do the minimum to get by without you getting on their back, rather than give their best.
Three: Encouraging your team members to be unhealthy.
Without you realizing it, those candy bars in the break room might be your undoing. Studies show that exercise and good nutrition reduce anxiety, lead to better sleep, and positively affects your mood. These are all things you want from your team members. So how can you be preventing it? You might not even realize you’re doing it. You can give your team incentives to fitness by setting an example yourself and hitting the gym during lunch, by filling the break room with healthy snacks, and by allowing your team members to take needed breaks.
Four: Using Facebook to communicate.
Facebook can be a great tool, both personally and professionally. It’s probably also the biggest time sink in recent memory. At first, it may seem like a good idea to have a team use Facebook. You can set up groups, use Facebook Chat, and even keep in touch with your smartphone. Let’s make the generous assumption that your team is diligently avoiding angering birds or crushing candy. But that home screen is downright insidious, and on several levels. First, you’ve got those alerting red flags. That’s a distraction waiting to happen, and after all, what’s a minute or two, right? They get the job done. Well, here’s where the second layer comes in. What do you think your team is going to see on their Facebook homepage? They’ll see only the good parts of other people’s lives, rather than think about the tough slogs those people had to do to get there. It’ll lead to idle daydreaming, and at worst, a little resentment towards you because of the tough work they have ahead of them. So if you want to communicate, there are plenty of tools, from business SMS, to IM, to hosted PBX displays. Better yet, have them communicate face-to-face, rather than Facebook-to-Facebook.
Five: Make a promotion a zero-sum game.
Let’s say you have a competition for a coveted spot higher up the ladder. Your team members give it their all vying for the top spot. Then you have to drop the hammer to everyone that didn’t get the job. They’re going to feel like all their hard work was for nothing, and they’re going to resent you for it. It’s pretty likely that following such a situation, they won’t work as hard and they may even quit on you. If everyone works hard, reward everyone.
When leading a team, it’s important to be a team player. That means being able to put yourself in your team members’ shoes. Think about what it’s like to work for you, and try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Ask yourself “Would I want to work for me?” If the answer is no, then chances are, your team members are thinking it too, and they’re looking for the exit. If you want your team members to do their best, you have to motivate them the right way.
Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP, an in-depth comparison guide of VoIP service. With an extensive background in internet startups, Reuben overseas all day to day operations including approval to editorials, content brainstorming, team recruitment & management, as well as managing all marketing campaigns with advertisers. Keep up with Reuben on Twitter @reubenyonatan.
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