You’ve put a lot of work into building your business. You’ve focused on constant, never-ending improvement to provide more value than anyone else. You’ve mapped out your business plan and created your sales strategy. And you’ve sharpened your recruitment strategies and hired the right people for the job – at least you thought you did. But lately, you’ve been noticing team motivation declining.
You’ve attempted to entice employees with bonuses, pay raises and benefits, but they’re still missing deliverables and aren’t excited about the job. All of the traditional approaches you learned about how to motivate a team don’t seem to be working. With the added modern challenges of remote work, economic uncertainty and increasing complexity, motivating a team only seems to be getting more difficult.
That’s because you’re thinking about it from the wrong perspective.
True motivation isn’t related to money: It’s related to each individual’s values as well as your company culture. In fact, it isn’t about motivation at all: It’s more about team inspiration, and it takes leadership combined with real-life strategies. Once you understand these concepts, you’ll unlock limitless employee motivation.
1. Understand the psychology behind employee motivation
There are two types of team motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation includes pay, benefits and in-office perks like ping-pong and snacks. Intrinsic motivation refers to the sense of accomplishment a person gets from completing a certain task or from their job overall. Extrinsic motivation is temporary. The best ways to motivate your team use intrinsic motivation, which tap into deeper needs.
2. Leverage the Six Human Needs
Every individual is driven by Six Human Needs: certainty, significance, variety, love/connection, growth and contribution. Our top needs can differ, but we all typically have a deep need for certainty, growth and contribution, all of which you can leverage. Professional development can fulfill the need for growth while working on meaningful projects can fulfill the need for contribution. Discover each individual’s top needs and you’ll discover how to motivate a team.
3. Examine your company culture
Our need for contribution may be why many employees today value a workplace that allows them to give back. Creating a company culture of contribution can inspire your employees to work harder. A culture of constant and never-ending improvement, taking massive action and making empowered decisions also goes a long way toward team motivation. And culture starts with being aligned toward a common mission and purpose.
4. Know and share your vision
Learning how to inspire your team starts with learning what inspires you: You must discover your purpose before you can relate to others’ needs for fulfillment. What gets you to work every day? What is your ultimate goal for your business? Distill your purpose into a powerful vision statement and share it with your team. When everyone knows the deeper why behind going to work each day, team inspiration will soar.
5. Lead by example
Sharing your vision isn’t enough – you must live your purpose every day. Great leaders embody the traits they want to see in their team: hard work, dedication, loyalty and more. Discover your values and bring them to the table at work. Admit when you’re wrong. Learn from your mistakes. You’ll inspire your team to do the same.
6. Develop your self-awareness
Leading by example is a great start, but you can dig deeper. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Develop your self-awareness and learn about your natural leadership style. When you better understand yourself, you can develop your skills and become a well-rounded leader who can switch styles to inspire a team in any circumstance.
7. Master communication
The best leaders excel at reading nonverbal cues and use mirroring and pacing techniques to exert influence. They’re able to adapt to different communication styles to ensure they are understood. They’re always empathetic and open to new views, and they know how to use deep listening. Ask questions, listen to the answers and implement solutions. Often feeling heard is enough for team inspiration.
8. Build rapport and trust
Building rapport is about relationships: being open and authentic, finding common ground and establishing mutual respect. Creating those deeper connections is essential to intrinsic team motivation. The benefits of authenticity go even further. When you’re transparent with your team, you’ll build trust in the workplace and earn respect. When your team respects you, they will be much more open to your suggestions.
9. Use leverage
At the root of intrinsic team motivation lies each individual’s values: You must find out what drives them to come to work every day. Do they love the freedom to be creative? Does work fulfill their need for significance or contribution? Do they enjoy working on mastering skills? Discover their “why” and you’ll discover how to motivate a team.
10. Give ownership
We’ve all been in situations where we felt like we had no control. It’s the opposite of inspiring. Motivating a team means giving them total ownership of their tasks. Let them collaborate and discuss ideas and opinions. Let them take risks with unconventional tactics. Let them make big decisions – and feel consequences. A seat at the table inspires motivation.
11. Use performance reviews
If you’re not giving your employees clear tasks and goals, you may not have a team motivation problem – you may have a communication problem. Goals and feedback let your team know what is expected and set a clear path for advancement. Performance reviews are an excellent form of feedback that not only helps you create goals for each employee, but lets them know where they stand. They’re a clear, objective form of communication that can be just what an employee needs to improve.
12. Recognize accomplishments
Now that you’ve built the foundation of team motivation, you can implement a series of actions to help inspire your team to greatness. The first is recognition – everyone wants to be recognized. When you see a team member go above and beyond, recognize them. You’ll empower them to do more of the same.
13. Foster collaboration
When employees work as a true team, rather than as separate individuals, everyone is more productive. Teams hold each other accountable, but also help when someone is overwhelmed or absent. Outings, fun traditions and friendly competitions foster that sense of collaboration and improve team motivation.
14. Encourage personal growth
Those with a growth mindset achieve goals because they enjoy learning new things. You can develop this mindset in your team by encouraging personal growth. Send them articles about new skills they could master, books about success and invites to networking events. Personal growth leads to professional growth.
15. Prioritize employee well-being
Modern team inspiration isn’t just about growth – it’s about their well-being. Today’s employees want to know that their companies genuinely care about them. They want you to ask about their families and their health. They want to take time off without feeling stressed. When you give your team time to refuel their own minds and bodies, they will be able to contribute more to your business.
16. Adapt to market changes
Many of the trends we are seeing toward remote work are deeply connected to the notion of well-being. Remote work allows employees to have flexible schedules. It allows them to reclaim the hour or two they would normally spend commuting every day. This is why many employees see remote work not just as a perk, but as a necessity. If this is the case in your industry, it’s worth taking another look at implementing a remote or hybrid office.
17. Reward creativity
What do the Apples, Pelotons and Spotifys of the world have in common? They all have cultures of innovation that encourage employees to take risks, think creatively and always reach for the next best thing. You can embrace this form of team inspiration by encouraging brainstorming, rewarding originality and learning from failures and mistakes rather than punishing them.
18. Change it up
Boredom is the great team motivation killer – and it especially affects your top performers. If those at the top feel they have nothing else to learn, why would they stay? You can help them get out of their rut by switching up their routines, assigning them a new, big project or even encouraging a lateral move. Engaged employees are driven employees.
19. Trust your team
If you’re wondering how to inspire your team, the answer is almost never to micromanage them. One of the best ways to inspire your team may be to take a more hands-off approach. You’ll never know what your team can accomplish if you’re always micromanaging; many employees find it stifling. Learn more about how to embrace your leadership role and manage your business from a place of trust, and you just may find the key to motivating your team.
20. Ask for help
No business owner knows it all. We all have blind spots and weaknesses, and learning how to inspire your team is a process. Every individual is different, which means that every team is different. In business, it’s always valuable to have a sounding board and a place to go for advice. Finding a mentor is a good start. A business coach can also help. Remember, when you elevate your peers, you will be lifted up as well.