How to Motivate a Team and Show Leadership

Written by Calvin Bowers

This is one of the biggest things that any manager needs to learn in order to be successful in their role. Understanding how to motivate a team is something that is often considered a softer skill as it falls under the heading of people skills. Every member of the team will have their own motivations and reasons for doing what they do and it is important to be able to understand that and show empathy for them if you are going to be able to show leadership. 

Leadership is not the same as asserting you are the boss and that everyone must do as you say. There are many bosses who make this fundamental error when dealing with their employees. This is more often seen in countries like the USA where workers rights have been steadily and systematically eroded over a number of years to the point where people can be fired without a reason. 

Showing respect for your workers and acknowledging their talents will get you much further than you will ever get by shouting and threatening. In most office environments in the UK, Human Resources would be looking to have a word with anyone behaving like that, even if they were at a senior management level in the company. 

How to Motivate a Team

There are many ways that you can motivate your team and we will take a closer look at some of these below:

Ensure There is a Healthy Office Environment

It is important to do what you can to ensure that there is a healthy office environment and culture. This can be aided by never laughing at any jokes that are at the expense of marginalised groups and actively taking issue with their use. It is important that people who have protected characteristics know that they can rely on you to defend them against any bullies and to take any necessary disciplinary action.

Set Clear Goals and Achievable Targets

If your employees don’t know what the targets are, it can be difficult for them to hit them. Try to be very clear at all times about goals and the expectations of employees to help you to hit them. Ensure that the targets are achievable with a bit of work because there is a sense of achievement and team cohesion that comes with getting a win, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you. 

Communicate Well With Staff

Make it clear in all of your dealings with staff that you are not there to make their lives more difficult, Be helpful and take the time to communicate well, in an open and friendly manner. Ensure that they know they can come to you if they have any questions or concerns and that they are always welcome to do so. Ensure that when this does happen, you respond well and attempt to help the employee, or else it may be thought that your words aren’t worth all that much. 

Encourage Teamwork not Competition

The great thing about leading a team is that you are able to influence how they work together and if you encourage them to work closely, they are more likely to work in a collaborative and cohesive manner. Emphasise that their work will be judged as a whole and not the sum of its parts. Obviously if there are some members of the team who are not pulling their weight it is still good to keep an eye on the situation as they can undo the morale you are trying to build. If there is anyone who is quiet quitting, encouraging teamwork may discourage this somewhat as they will necessarily have to play their role in the team.

Talk about Career Advancement 

It is a good idea to talk about succession planning and career progression within the company. This is something that many employees are curious about but many hesitate to broach directly. Make it clear that you are happy to discuss this as an option and perhaps outline some of the upskilling that may need to be put in place to facilitate current staff moving up to more senior roles. Emphasise the importance of plugging the skills gap and consider looking for opportunities for employing an apprentice to help with this. 

Don’t Micromanage Your Team

One of the most frustrating things for employees is when they are micromanaged. It implies a lack of faith in their abilities and tends to be a very frustrating experience. Accept the idea that the people who work for you at a certain level are as competent at their level as you are at yours and allow them to put their energies into getting the work done, not ticking a box in order to gain your approval.  

Offer Perks to Your Team Where Possible

There are a great number of perks that you can offer to your team and many of the easiest to administer are those relating to flexible work. Allow your employees to take time to collect their kids early from school on the days the school closes early for snow and don’t think anything of it. 

Offer the chance to take a workation or a remote year, if this sounds like something that would act as a motivating factor. Consider making a paid remote year the reward at the end of a game within the team. Consider whether a full return to the office is really necessary or whether work from home should still be available as an option. 

Show Leadership

Not every organisation is in a position to offer pay rises at the moment, so perks can be a fun way of helping to tide staff over until that is possible again. If your employees aren’t getting a pay rise, make it clear that you won’t be taking one either. There are too many employers who think it is acceptable to give themselves huge bonuses while staff get nothing and this is an example of really poor leadership, which you should never follow.

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