Motivate Teams With 7 Things That Really Work

Motivate teams and get every obstacle cleared. Motivate teams and reach set goals. In fact, motivate teams and everything about teamwork streamlines to optimal results.

But in order to motivate teams, you need to be versatile. You need a full range of methods. Moreover, you need to possess special abilities, from public speaking to one-on-one mentoring and listening. Seems improbable? It’s actually achievable.

How to Motivate Teams

There are several ways to motivate teams. Trusted and tested. We’ve selected some of the ones that really motivate teams. Here they are:

#1 Praise rather than scold

Motivate teams with positivity. Here’s how it works. We tend to remember bad things far easier than good things. Yes, the science backs this up. We also tend to repress bad, traumatic memories. Indeed, science backs this up too. In any case, it’s complicated. Yet, we can simplify this to great effect. You can use praise to motivate teams.

When you praise, you will be remembered. And your memory will bring forth positive associations. In fact, you create memories that contribute to self-esteem. With praise, you add on to feeling appreciated and respected. And the praise receiver will appreciate your efforts.

We could argue that praise is better than scolding, even when scolding is due. In fact, that’s why there’s such a thing as a “sandwich feedback”. But it gets better. The main reason why you should praise rather than scold is goal contagion.

Leaders motivate teams. They inspire teams to do more and do better. To pursue set goals, relentlessly. And goal contagion can motivate teams precisely because it works by power of example.

Same thing with offering praise. It’s an act of kindness. And it builds positivity, which will in turn affect others. Soon, the entire team will be more positive. They will also start to praise rather than scold. Positivity is hard to come by. Might sound like it’s a soft approach, but it’s not.

It has radical effects. Studies show that employees who receive praise are more productive. They drive employee engagement and employee retention way up. But they’re not outliers in doing so. In fact, there’s a contagious effect of positivity affecting the whole organization. An organization built around praise is one that offers respect, reciprocity, and positive synergizing. It’s an upwards spiral.

#2 Flatten hierarchies

Yes, it works, and we’ve talked about this before. In fact, some organizations go a long way with flattening hierarchies. Surprisingly, you can benefit from this concept by applying it to team activities.

For the very next project, simply cut away the overhead. Try it out with a “pilot project” and see what happens. Simply assign one project to a team. But don’t assign a project manager.

The project manager typically is in a position that mitigates. Accountability and project responsibility towards higher-ups. Add to this responsibility for the team and reaching set goals. That’s a lot of pressure on one person.

Making the project management a team effort eases the tension. While pressure dissipates, engagement increases. Team members will tap into previously unknown resources. They will come up with better, more creative ideas. And they will pursue them relentlessly. Why? Because now the accountability is a team effort. And so is the responsibility.

Besides, working so closely with something truly makes it personal. Now that each team member contributes to the vision, the team effort truly comes together. And this is how you motivate teams.

When you flatten hierarchies, your eyes open. You will see which managerial positions are relevant. Moreover, you will begin to rediscover the role of the manager. In today’s world, this role is something else entirely, unexpected even.

In fact, let’s suppose you’re the project manager of a team. Now, consider taking yourself out of the equation for a short period. Think about it as a project manager. However, be advised to show some moderation. Flatten hierarchies of people, not hierarchies of purpose. Still make it clear that you expect key results. That each individual should work towards a common goal. And that you expect the entire team to cooperate and communicate.

#3 Offer proper feedback

Feedback is underrated. Despite all the trainings, workshops, seminars. All the books describing feedback, everything you know about proper conversation. Feedback is underrated because it can be powerful enough to generate change. Yet, people seldom know how to offer feedback.

The proper way to offer feedback is to treat it as nurture for growth. Not a 20-point plan for improvement, but rather directions towards which a person can lean to grow. Like a plant towards light, growing tall. Or towards water, rooting deep.

And that’s precisely what you need to master. Contrary to its name, feedback is not just a self-amplifying random noise. It is purposeful and targeted. It helps a person reach answers (or questions) that, once answered, will foster growth.

Proper feedback means that you always give your full consideration. You consider the person, the situation, your role and your relation. Feedback can act as reinforcement, and can even serve as due praise. This is why you need to make sure you don’t use feedback as a way to condition your team. You want to motivate teams, not manipulate them.

Research shows that brain activity related to feedback can be affected by motivational contexts. The human brains responds flexibly, based on the goals of the feedback receiver. Hence, it’s particularly important to explain the purpose of what you are offering. More precisely, what you mean to achieve with your feedback.

#4 Empower and reward

Everyone should be in the pursuit of leadership qualities. Each member of your team should undergo some form of leadership training. It’s precisely this type of career track that can motivate teams. One that highlights future organic growth.

Accordingly, always highlight top performers. Invite everyone to appreciate how these performers contribute to team strengths. Offer small tokens of appreciation. Show recognition for accomplishments. Likewise, give credit where it’s due.

However, navigate with great care. There are some accomplishments people would prefer to keep private. Personal accomplishments are a delicate matter. Always check if it’s appropriate to mention them to the team.

There are some personal achievements that would unite and motivate teams. From fighting a certain illness to getting back into shape. Teams will rally around such accomplishments, even when they are personal. On the other hand, some accomplishments are best kept personal. Hence, exercise extra caution and common sense.

There are some ideas about how to best do this. But first, consider engaging your employees on this topic. It’s important to realize what each of them considers to be the best idea.

You could use a belt system, like in martial arts. Naturally, you would adapt this to your organization. In essence, you could celebrate various milestones by signaling them, for a day, with a badge. This will rally the whole team and will create opportunities for effective breaks. Alternatively, you could afford items that employees can wear repeatedly. This will further celebrate certain accomplishments.

But it’s not just accomplishments that you need to celebrate. It may well be a specific performance. Or a certain level of commitment. In fact, take a moment to consider this. In light of all that you know about your organization, choose what you want to reward.

5# Motivate teams by engaging individuals

Everyone wants to feel relevant. But it’s even more specific to millennials. In fact, they’d rather work for purpose than paycheck. And it’s important to realize that millennials are right. After all, loyalty is a two-way street. And why should anyone give their best to an organization only for a paycheck? Indeed, this is one key generational difference.

By the same token, employees want to feel relevant. In other words, they want to feel like they contribute. To feel integrated, and that their career potential is being realized. Nobody ever dreams of being stuck in a dead-end job anymore, ironically. In like manner, people dream of being part of something. In effect, this has a long list of beneficial outcomes.

It increases employee retention and quality of hire. It motivates individuals to go into self-development and achieve more, all over. And, in due time, it motivates teams.

But it’s not just onboarding done right that can motivate teams. Engaging individuals has a similar outcome. In fact, engaging individuals should be a priority. Not only it attracts and retains top talent, but it also keeps teams focused and improves teamwork.

To increase engagement, start with clarity. Focus on what your organization does. What it believes in, what your values are. You might be surprised with the results. Make sure you read this article on executive communications. Now formulate a clear company statement. Present your vision and your values. Identically, cover some of your CSR achievements. Show that you are passionate and engaged. Because engagement in itself can be contagious.

#6 Cultivate a “no regrets” company culture

Of course, traditions are important. They’re part of company culture, and company culture alone can bring people in through the door. From employees to clients, company culture can charm.

To point out, company culture is the identity of your business. It’s like giving your organization a personality. Hence, it is constantly evolving. Everything from leadership to hierarchies affect it. And it will happen organically. So you might as well get ahead of it all.

But not dwelling on the past doesn’t mean that you should neglect company culture. Quite the contrary. It’s the perfect philosophy for approaching bad situations. At the end of the day, you should no longer have regrets over anything. In fact, make it part of your company culture to say no to regrets.

Why say no to regrets? They’re counterproductive. And at team level, regrets are disastrous. Consider for a second why you think regrets are due. As an educational experience? Sure. But no matter how hard you drill something down with regrets, you’d soon rather forget it. It’s only normal that we tend to shy away from bad things.

Regrets will keep your company from moving forward. They will burn up useful resources, and will hinder all progress. And it’s up to you, as a leader, to clear the air.

So make sure you share both success and failure, but don’t dwell on regrets. Explain how outcomes can be positive or negative. How our ability to stay away from the negative is limited. And how dwelling on the past limits us.

Besides, not dwelling on the past gives a boost to focusing on the future. To building a communal vision. In return, this makes your team see things more clearly be they career perspectives, opportunities for development or simply themselves – as part of your company culture.

#7 Listen to your team

We often don’t know what the best solution is. Sometimes we might not even know any solution. But that’s precisely what teams are for. And that’s why you look for talent and hire experts. This is pretty simple. When you hire experts, listen to what they say.

Acknowledging expertise and talent makes you an effective leader. When you acknowledge, you motivate. Professional acknowledgement inspires driven performances. You’re effectively deferring an issue to someone that knows better. And this, in turn, motivates. Why? Because you’re enabling people. You’re engaging and listening. You’re creating a conversation in which teams play an active role.

If you want to see this working, push your team. Ask for input on all accounts. Expect 100% active participation in meetings. Check this ultimate meetings guide on how to do it. Ask for reports, and find out what they’re saying. And, most of all, listen without assumptions.

Overall, to motivate teams you need to actively groom them. Engage and reward accordingly, but also listen, mentor, and empower team members. This is a process, not a quick fix. It takes time to develop. Much like company culture, the things you do to motivate teams tend to stick. Over time, you will reap the benefits.

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