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8 Ways To Motivate Your Team

It's the eternal conundrum, how do leaders get their teams to perform at higher levels and how do they maintain a level of high morale. It always amazes me how leaders point the finger at their people and talk about them as if they are the problem or an entity unto themselves responsible for all failings within the department. It is a brave leader who will look at themselves first and ask some very powerful yet disturbing questions such as:

What have I done in the past that worked?
What's going on with me right now and am I bringing enthusiasm to the workplace?
Am I being realistic in my expectations and have I communicated them to my team?

A team's performance is a direct reflection of the leader who leads them. Ouch!
Think about it - .people within a team will only perform to the level that they see rewarded or to the level that their leader brings to the table.
In my training seminars to management leaders I often challenge them to look at how themselves their strengths, weaknesses and how they manage before they look at the problems that their people are challenging them with.

Many leaders are put into their positions with little or no training and they are doomed to fail. The assumption most employees make is that because you are the leader you should know how to manage personalities and motivate. This couldn't be further from the truth. People skills are just that, a skill that is developed through training, application and experience.

I am not saying that we absolve the employees of responsibility, let's face it in a highly functioning team environment there exists a high level of accountability all the way around. What I am saying is that we leaders be willing to look at ourselves and what we have control over. Here are 8 things you can do to motivate your teams:

1. Look in the mirror. Are you waking up with enthusiasm and excitement about your work? Have you set goals for yourself and your team? Or are you just punching a time clock like the rest of them and its all you can do to not fall asleep with boredom or scream out loud with frustration. What do you need to be more excited and enthused?
If you are not excited and energetic it is not fair to expect your team to bring the same to the table.

2. Take a retreat. Step away from the work environment for a day or if possible two.
Go to a 2-day management seminar or retreat and re-fuel, re-group and re-energize so that you can bring a fresh attitude and approach back to your team. Many leaders are suffering burnout and they are not able to be creative with their solutions. Signs of burnout are: lethargy, apathy and negativity just to name a few.

3. Take a pulse. Do an assessment of your team dynamics. List all of your team members on a piece of paper and beside each person's name indicate the level of performance you feel they are currently at, what you feel they are capable of and where the gap in performance exists. Then think about how you have approached this person in the past in regards to performance improvement and what you can do differently this time with them to have them hear you in a new and different way.

4. Tell them what you want. Have a team meeting and tell your team that you want to brainstorm ideas on how to create higher levels of motivation and morale. Be willing to hear all ideas and as a group have them prioritize the ideas and then delegate the action items. Be willing to do something yourself to show your commitment to the goal of higher motivation and morale.

5. Do a 360. It is a brave leader who willingingly has his/her teams assess them as leaders. The 360 degree performance evaluation system does just that. It allows for employees to evaluate their leaders and to provide sound feedback on how their leader can improve. Tell your team you want their opinions and input on how you can be a better leader. Be open and willing to hear the good with the bad and sometimes the ugly.
Then do something with the feedback- communicate back to your team what you are going to do as a result of the feedback.

6. Coach regularly. Statistics show that leaders who have a coaching plan in place for their employees have less absenteeism, higher productivity and overall higher morale. It makes sense doesn't it? Spend quality one on one time with your employees on a regular and rotating basis and they begin to perform at higher levels due to ongoing personal attention and validation. Coaching prevents bad behavior and negative attention methods by employees.

7. Praise in public- criticize in private. There is nothing that replaces pure praise. Employees surveyed stated that they value recognition above pay raises by their leaders. We often undervalue the power of praise and we may even feel that if they are doing a good job they should know that we think they are great. Some leaders feel that giving praise all the time is hard work and that employees requiring it are high maintenance.
The rules of giving effective praise are: praise specific behaviors or results, be sincere, make it timely when the event happens and when possible make it public.

8. Be a psychologist. Adapt to the different personalities of your team. You already know your people to a high level and yet we tend to overlook the unique emotional needs that each individual has. Treat them as they want to be treated and be willing to see things from their perspective. Openly communicate and be willing to share yourself with your team. You can't be everyone's friend however you can be accessible, open and trustworthy. Teams who have an understanding and compassionate leader tend to be more loyal and can weather ongoing change at higher levels.
Often we feel that we just need to throw money or perks towards our teams to keep them happy. This is an erroneous belief and it has been found that truly what people want is to have open communication, straightforward and direct leadership and an easygoing environment to work within. Sounds good doesn't it?
The rewards of leadership are many and we can have greater satisfaction, less stress and a sense of accomplishment when we look at what we can do to improve our team's performance and happiness on the job.

This article may be used in your publication with the following byline:

Cheryl Cran is the author of 'Say What You Mean- Mean What You Say' and International Speaker who specializes in communication strategies for improved leadership, teams and customer care.

About the Author
Cheryl Cran is the author of 'Say What You Mean- Mean What You Say' and International Speaker who specializes in communication strategies for improved leadership, teams and customer care.

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