Three Steps to Motivate Your Team

how to motivate your teamDisciplined Leaders know it’s their responsibility to motivate those on their team. Yet some executives and managers can really struggle in this area of their job. Why? For some leaders, it’s just not in their natural leadership “style,” so it may feel uncomfortable, forced, or even foreign. Or, in spite of their team’s poor performance and productivity, leaders may have blind spots, so they can’t see how their under-developed skills contribute to the issue. In fact, in working with tens of thousands of leaders over the years, MAP consultants have consistently surfaced issues around this very topic. We’ve found that many of our clients know it’s important to motivate their team members but they’re unsure on how to do it. Learning how to motivate your team—and doing it—is something that really matters. It’s an area of your leadership you can control as opposed to all those external forces that tend to come and go, sometimes threatening your business and its people. Effective motivation is a proven strategy for boosting morale, your ability to connect with and inspire your people, and, ultimately, improve your organization’s odds of success.

Here’s how to improve your motivational skills:

  1. Get honest feedback. As part of our MAP 2.5-day executive workshop, we use an assessment test that helps leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses. It’s not a personality test per se but provides key insights around how you, the leader, relate and operate in a team setting. We also get anonymous 360-degree feedback from their bosses and team members. In doing these activities, there are always some leaders who learn they’re really struggling with how to motivate their direct reports—and it’s a wake-up call. Why? Because awareness of a real opportunity for improvement is a critical, first step in initiating change.

  2. Set a goal. If you want to create change and become a better motivational leader, you’ve got to define it through a solid goal, then commit to it. When you define your goal, make sure it’s a SMART one — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For example, if you’re a store supervisor who needs to motivate sales staff, your first SMART goal could be: meet with each of my employees within the next 45 days and learn four things about them: what they love about their job; how they like to be recognized or rewarded; what they feel they’re good at in their work; and how they could be better supported. Create and follow through with SMART goals relative to motivating your team and you will improve your skills and competency in this area of leadership.

  3. Focus on what’s right. Motivating people to do better can be as easy as saying, “Hey, what you just did is exactly right.” But don’t just stop there—take a step further and be specific. Your team members will know you are being authentic when you take the time to notice their good efforts or abilities and specify what those are, not just in some generic way. As highlighted in detail in MAP’s new book, “The Disciplined Leader,” this approach creates greater impact. So continue with your praise, providing details like: “The depth in your presentation created a greater value than just telling our clients that they needed to buy our services. You communicated what we are really worth both verbally and through that professional PowerPoint presentation. Nice work!” The key with praise of any kind is to be genuine, otherwise it won’t motivate anyone. People will call your bluff. So don’t just go around dishing out generic compliments but do make an effort to spot opportunities to praise people purposefully. When what they’re doing supports or sustains your leadership goals, or those of your team and the organization, quickly speak up and put the spotlight on what they’re doing right.

What are some additional ways you can quickly motivate your team?


Map's Newest Book: The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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