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
- 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 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:
- 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 it's 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.