Keeping your team motivated might be the most important role you have as a leader of a project or an organization. Without providing the proper motivation, you have top performers outputting subpar quality results.
The good thing is that there are a lot of things we can do to keep our teams motivated, even during layoffs and budget cuts. Following are five surefire ways to keep your team motivated:
1. Give Credit Where Credit is Due
We all know how demotivating it can be when you bust your butt to get something done, and no one acknowledges your hard work and effort… or worse, gives credit to someone else. When this happens, especially repeatedly, it makes sense that you would be less likely to perform at that level again.
To keep your team motivated, it is important to make sure you always give credit where credit is due. It can be hard to pause and remember to acknowledge someone’s work, especially when things are moving quickly on a project, but it is important for you to purposefully carve out time for this.
Acknowledgment comes in many forms, so make sure to use group meetings or internal recognition systems to spread the praise widely to keep motivation up.
2. Acknowledge Team Members’ Skillsets
When leading a team or a project, it can be hard to remember everyone’s prior experiences and skillsets. If you invest the time to do this, though, you end up keeping your team motivated because you give people the right opportunities to which they can add a lot of value.
Picture this scenario: you’re leading a project and you delegate tasks to the team members. You arbitrarily choose certain people for certain tasks, but don’t consider their prior experiences or skillsets.
Two things can happen. First, you could end up giving someone a task when someone else in the group happens to have years of experience in that field. This person would get frustrated and wonder why someone else is leading work related to their domain of expertise. The second outcome could be that you delegate to a person with a strong and relevant background, but then explain everything to them in detail, making them feel micromanaged.
Organizations like to treat employees as “resources” when making staffing decisions. Instead, to get the most out of the employees and keep them motivated to be top performers, we need to acknowledge their specific skillsets to find the best project matches.
3. Allow Room for Creativity
Micromanaging is a major demotivator. When you leave room for creativity, you not only give your team the opportunity to showcase their unique problem-solving skills, but you also keep them motivated.
It’s a natural instinct to start ideating a solution immediately after hearing someone state a problem. As a leader of a project or a team, it is not always our role to come up with the solution, though. Instead, our role is to help guide our teams to success while giving them the freedom to choose the initial steps to take.
Providing space for team members to try out their ideas makes coming to work more fun. Plus, your team might use their skills to find a novel solution that you were not aware of.
4. Lead by Example
Leading by example is a very straightforward way to motivate your team. If you want your team to do something, you must follow those directions as well, because it is very demotivating to see someone cut corners that they want you to go around.
This applies to every aspect of your work, too. No matter if it is something small like not having your computer open during a meeting, or something bigger like properly documenting the outcome of your work, you need to be following the same rules that you are laying out for your teams if you want them to be motivated to follow them.
5. Trust Your Team Members
The final surefire way to motivate your team is to show that you trust them. Showing trust comes in many forms, but a perfect example of showing trust is in situations where you are not sure if they made the correct decision.
Picture this: your team member updates you on something they did. Your brain immediately starts firing off signals that they made the wrong decision. Instead of jumping in and saying “NO! THAT’S WRONG,” you should pause and ask them why they made that decision.
There are times when someone does make an incorrect decision and you need to help them correct it, but there are also a lot of times where you do not know the in-the-weeds details of what they are working on, and they could have a solid rationale for their decision.
You show your team that you trust them when you let them make decisions and then provide a space where they can explain their rationale. When they feel trusted, they are empowered and motivated to continue to perform at a high level.
The ability to motivate is a key skill every leader needs to develop. You can keep your team motivated through simple day-to-day interactions where you give credit where credit is due, acknowledge their skillset, allow room for creativity, lead by example, and trust them. A leader with these skills creates teams that people want to be a part of — and you can start being that leader today!