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How to Motivate Your Team & Others at Work

Being a good leader requires more than being a high performer yourself. You must also be able to motivate others to achieve their greatest potential by empowering them and holding them accountable for their responsibilities.

Gallup’s Re-Engineering Performance Management report indicates that employees in the U.S. who are either not engaged or are actively disengaged cost companies between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year, demonstrating that a lack of motivation among employees means money lost for your organization. The report also says that only two out of every ten employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. This is a strong indicator that leaders need to do better. Additionally, only 21 percent of employees strongly agree that their pay and incentives motivate them to achieve their goals. Increasing pay is a quick answer, not a long-term solution.

So, if you are looking for how to effectively motivate your team and others at work, the following steps will prove helpful:


1. Start With Yourself

Do a self-assessment. What is your level of motivation currently? What actions can you take to raise it? Is there room for improvement? If you’re not engaged with the work you’re doing, it’s difficult to get other people engaged as well, especially those you are leading. If you find that you’re struggling with motivation, you need to identify why and correct it. Working on the wrong types of projects, not having the necessary resources to do the work, or being bored with the usual routine are all common contributors to low engagement levels. When you can pinpoint the cause for your lack of motivation, you will be better able to find the appropriate solutions.


2. Create a Vision Worthy of Motivation

It’s hard to get others motivated about something that does not instill a “greater than self” sense of purpose or inspire them to do better or more. While not everything at work will be exciting, as a leader, you have to find ways to get people excited about the work they’re doing and understand the value it brings to the success of the team, department, and organization. Share your vision with your team and explain why a particular task or project is important. Refer to organizational objectives and tie the work to them to help people keep the big picture in mind.

3. Build Emotional Engagement

For some, work is just a way to bring home a paycheck and support their families. You can overcome this barrier to motivation by changing mindsets and building emotional engagement. Help people get engaged with the work they do day in and day out by giving recognition where recognition is due. Formal and informal recognition of a job well done by individuals and teams enables everyone to celebrate and become aware of the good work being done. The workplace is where people spend the majority of their time, so it’s important as a leader to ensure it is an enjoyable environment that celebrates successes and builds each other up. This means developing relationships that are built on respect, trust, and an understanding that everyone is a person beyond the job.


4. Empower Others

One skill of a truly great leader is the ability to make others shine. Give credit where credit is due and create opportunities for team members to perform at their best, and then give them recognition when they do. Offer training and development opportunities to allow team members to sharpen their skills and progress both personally and professionally.


5. Build Trust

Be accountable for what you say you are going to do and follow through on those commitments. When team members falter, react in a way that shows them a degree of grace and help them get back on the path to success. This helps build the trust that you are not going to leave them hanging when they’re down, but together you can come back from it. It’s important to remember that leaders aren’t perfect. Admit when you have made a mistake and own what you are going to do next time to do better.


6. Help Them See That the Goal is Attainable

According to a Gallup report, employees whose managers involve them in goal setting are 3.6 times more likely than other employees to be engaged. Work with employees to create a clear path from where you are now to where the team will be when the goal is achieved. Track milestones to show progress, especially when it feels like forward momentum has stopped or slowed. Share success stories and the struggles that were overcome along the way to help team members address challenges.


7. Help “Get Things Done”

World-class leaders don’t just delegate, they step up when necessary to ensure that the work gets done. This approach helps build relationships with employees and demonstrates that leadership is accountable for ensuring success. When your team sees you staying late to put the finishing touches on a project, they will be more inclined to go the extra mile as well. Modeling this type of behavior to future leaders also helps prime the pipeline with the types of leaders you want in your organization.


Conclusion: Start Motivating Your Team and Others Today

It’s a common misconception that people are born leaders. While it’s true that there might be some innate characteristics that make some people more prone to leadership than others, becoming truly excellent at it often requires time, training, and experience. So, while leaders are responsible for ensuring the workforce is motivated, empowered, and engaged, it may be essential to their success to receive experiential training so they learn the necessary skills and techniques by doing, not just listening or watching someone else.


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