Are you a manager, looking to refuel the motivation of your team and inspire them to achieve their best? Are you fretting over that star performer who managed to put up those crazy numbers in her first three months but then hit a plateau for no reason. Did you form a dream team only to have their work showing telltales signs of complacency, surface-level analysis, sloppiness, and an overall lack of creativity within a few months? There could be a number of incomprehensible reasons for this plummet in the performance curve, but fortunately there are a few things you can do to reignite that spark you once saw in your team.
1. Give Your Team Autonomy
Have you ever heard someone say, “I really appreciate how my boss micromanages every aspect of my job.” Well, I haven’t!
Human beings value autonomy. The need to feel in control of our time and energy is woven in the very fabric of our being and taking this away from your team is a surefire way to torpedo their motivation. Not to mention, when you let people own their work and ask for help rather than hold their hand the entire way, it demonstrates that you trust them. Trust is the foundation of relationships and this forms a nurturing bond between an employer and employee that is the hallmark of successful companies. In my opinion, autonomy is by far the most important motivator.
Unfortunately, this culture is not as yet prevalent in most companies, as managers fear that giving their direct reports too much leeway will create a lax environment. On the contrary, we have seen that giving your team a true sense of ownership, even over something as simple as setting their own working hours or time, keeps employees highly motivated.
2. Gamify Tasks
This is hands-down a proven motivator for every type of employee: turn work into games! Not to mention introducing elements of gameplay to your team’s most important tasks is one of the best ways of instilling a sense of healthy competition into the workplace. The psychology behind gamification is that it uses consistent and regular positive feedback – progression, status, badges, points etc. – to build up the users’ motivation. Be it employee onboarding process, trainings, enhancing an employee’s job performance, or boosting employee engagement, gamification helps you achieve your desired goals.
By incorporating gamification principles within their Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA), such as badges, missions, and leaderboards into their online training curriculum, the company was able to motivate employees to sign up and complete training courses. Similarly, in order to increase usage of its complex CRM system, Salesforce introduced the “Big Game Hunter” program, in which Sales personnel started off as chicken hunters, slowly working their way towards more rewarding statuses as they got to grips with new CRM features.
3. Figure Out What Makes Your Employees Tick
As managers, we tend to forget one basic fact: no two employees are the same. Some are introverts, while others are extroverts. For some, intrinsic motivation works, while for others, palpable rewards matter. Some like to venture into the unknown while some prefer the luxury of the familiar and the tested. Some are independent workers, while some need a constant push in the right direction. Some are fresh out of college, while some are encumbered by the burden of family and responsibility. The point is that since all your employees come from different backgrounds, they must be motivated by different things. There is no one-formula-fits-all.
A manager’s job is to assess and adapt to each individual. And how do you do that? Well simply by making time to get to know your employees on a personal level so that you know what ticks each employee. Also, you need to check-in with your employees frequently and ask them how things are going for them. This would help you align their personal and professional goals with their role in your company as best you can.
4. Create an Awe-Inspiring Work Environment
Did you know that your mood affects your sense of well-being, your ability to concentrate, your interaction with others, and your overall energy. This is why we say that motivation and mood go hand in hand. If you are looking for employee motivation ideas that give your employees the aspirational boost they need, you might want to invest in your work environment. Which is exactly why you need to invest in a work environment where people actually want to spend their time.
We are seeing more and more companies starting to resemble homes, and the kitchen becoming the center of office life. Creating a homey and cozy workplace will minimize distractions, motivate your employees and have them looking forward to coming in to work each day. Whether you are thinking about injecting a sense of whimsy into your office space, letting people build their own furniture, or bringing nature inside, the key is to listen to the needs and wishes of your employees and act accordingly.
5. Create Stretch Goals
Stretch goals are ones that are set just beyond your team’s current capability. Dangling the possibility of these goals will inspire your team to see past their current standing and push boundaries to achieve greater things. We all want to be successful and we all want to break through the glass ceiling. Your job is to show them what they can achieve when they set their heart on it. Achieving goals feeds our desire to contribute and have an impact. However, refrain from introducing far-fetched aspirations which may lead your team into an overdrive and sap their creativity and productivity. The perfect way is to keep constant and consistent stretch goals in front of them that are big enough to inspire real progress, but attainable enough to avoid undue stress. I think it’s safe to shoot for 4% growth above your team’s limit, since anything within this range is considered the sweet spot.