With the jobs market opening up in 2015 and individuals see opportunities increasing again across the majority of sectors, motivating employees is coming to the forefront in staff retention. This can be a key issue for SME’s, where there may not be a clear strategy or even informal process in place for retaining staff.
You can spend months defining your team’s core values, articulating your Mission and Vision, and developing a flexible strategy for growth — but how much importance do you really place on team motivation? If your people do not feel motivated enough to execute their part in the overall business plan, how successful will it be?
When individuals are crystal clear about the most important objectives of your organisation and the team they work within and prioritize their work around those, they can be many times more productive. This has a significant and positive impact on the bottom line. However, if their collective attitude is one of indifference then it’s time to look at ways you can introduce a culture which motivates and inspires your people.
Individual commitment to a group effort is what really makes a team work and therefore enable a company to be successful. So what can you do to inspire your team? It seems obvious but start by showing you believe in them and because you have confidence they can achieve.
Consider implementing the following:
1. Communicate the bigger picture
If your team isn’t already familiar with the organisation’s main goals, then lay them out in plain language. Introduce a forum for regular communication – a weekly/monthly email from the management team, regular updates on a company intranet if you have one, a printed newsletter on what is happening in the business with key customers and staff.
Show them where they fit within the organisational structure and why their work moves everyone towards those goals. Make them feel valued, so they’ll have reason to engage with and “own” their role in that.
2. Give them what they need to achieve
If your employees lack the right tools or training to deliver on the business goals, they may not feel capable of or confident about doing the tasks you’ve assigned them. Whether they need training, a new computer or a better printer, make it happen, so they can move forward with confidence.
If they express a need for something to help them be more productive and you fail to provide or approve it, this will have a direct impact on motivation. A business expects certain results which become much harder to achieve when the powers that be refuse to see the bigger picture. This is not a good culture to encourage.
3. Involve staff at the planning stage
Because long-term strategies don’t always survive unless they really are integrated into a company’s culture, you should collaborate with your team on how to best achieve them. Review strategic plans and get everyone involved in the decisions on how best to proceed.
Give them active, important roles in developing and delivering on those plans, as well as controlling deadlines, scheduling and project management.
4. Promote clear performance goals
Provide reasonable objectives to aim for, both as individuals and as a team and ensure everyone is challenged a little to reach them. These performance goals can take the form of quotas, profit margins, commissions, projects completed early and under budget, or whatever else is significant to your company but most importantly to individual teams, who will have different motivators.
5. Implement tracking metrics
It’s important to measure on delivery – KPI’s and other metrics should be set early on and its as important to communicate these to all those involved. Back to number 1 – keep the communication going as goal deadlines approach. If your teams realise they’re the front-runners in a company-wide sales incentive, for example, they will up their game to stay there; or if they’re in second place, they’ll be redoubling their efforts to take first place.
7. Celebrate successes
When a goal is met or exceeded, even something small, make sure your team knows you appreciate their efforts. If a project is a key milestone, let them know what will be the reward when they complete it — especially if it comes in early and under budget. That’ll give them something to reach for and you can be assured of a motivated and focused team.
You’ll notice that many of the motivational tips outlined here are intrinsic: the rewards are internal, based on achieving results and receiving recognition for them. Intrinsic rewards can act as powerful motivators in team environments – in that well used quote, “There’s no “I” in “Team,” but there is in “Win.” If you win, the whole team prospers.
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