Your teams are the heart and soul of your company. However, simply working for the same company doesn’t make a team. A team is a group of people who trust one another, communicate, and are working toward the same goals. To turn a group of employees into a true team, your job as a leader is to motivate them and provide opportunities for growth and engagement. Cultivating a truly motivated team of happy, productive employees is the fastest way to achieve your business goals.
But “employee engagement” and “workplace motivation” are buzzwords that we tend to hear a lot in the business world. Billions of dollars have been spent working towards these goals, and yet 85% of employees worldwide say they are unhappy and demotivated in their current positions. So where’s the disconnect?
At iProv, we believe that the disconnect is a subtle, but deeply important, distinction. Companies generally scramble to invest in employee engagement activities and programs, but they very rarely invest directly in their employees themselves.
Motivation is an intrinsic value, meaning it has to be done from within. True motivation cannot be achieved extrinsically–but if that’s the case, how can leadership compel motivation? The answer we’ve found to be true for our company and clients is that you have to shift your mindset and your culture to be employee-focused.
Invest in your employees as individuals, and you’ll reap the rewards in lower turnover, higher productivity, and innovation you wouldn’t have thought possible otherwise. Here are our top three leadership strategies to motivate your team.
1. Pay Your Employees What They’re Worth
No matter how many beanbags are scattered throughout the office or how many free yoga classes you offer, people know when they are being underpaid and underappreciated. No one likes to be taken advantage of. And with social norms changing to make discussing salary less taboo (not to mention all of the information available on the internet) people have a pretty good understanding of what they should be paid for the work they’re doing.
26% of employees who were identified as “engaged” and relatively happy in their work said they would switch jobs for as little as a 5% increase in pay. Five percent! If you have an employee with a $50,000 salary, they would consider leaving for an extra $2,500 a year. That’s $200 a month. It costs you more than that to bring on someone new when you take into account the man-hours required for recruitment and training. Not to mention the incalculable losses in team productivity and client satisfaction that occur when a good employee leaves.
If you’re saying “But I can’t afford to pay them more,” as you read this, it’s time to examine why. Are you charging enough for your product or services? Are there some members of your team with bloated paychecks or inflated bonuses? Are you making unnecessary expenditures? We promise that if you tell your employees you’re cutting the ping-pong table and the beer fridge to give everyone a raise, they won’t shed a single tear. They’ll probably even help you move the stuff out.
If you’re not able to pay your employees a living wage for the value they provide, you need to examine your business model and make some changes. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way you’re going to be able to grow. Replacing your entire workforce every three years (the average length of time people stay in jobs now) makes it impossible to build a solid foundation and get traction.
2. Empower Your Employees
One of the best team motivation techniques is to empower your employees to do well. Empowerment is one of those terms that feels fuzzy around the edges. We understand what it means but how do you implement empowerment? The literal definition of empowerment is, “to give the authority or power necessary to do something.” So, let’s start there.
Are your employees required to gain authorization before they implement new ideas? Do they have the ability to set their own inter-departmental meetings? Do they have access to their desktop settings so they can choose their own motivational or inspiring backgrounds?
People can only rise to the level of the bar you set for them. Giving people your trust can be scary, especially if you’ve had bad experiences with past employees. But you have to operate from a position of openness if you want to encourage creativity and communication.
When you empower your employees to utilize their skills and strengths, it gives them a feeling of purpose and belonging. When you give people the autonomy and confidence to experiment with new tools and ideas and then implement those ideas when they work, you are telling your employees that they are valued, that they’ve contributed, and that you believe in them. And there is nothing more motivating than being recognized for a job well done.
3. Stop Micromanaging
Wondering how to motivate a team to improve performance? Solving micromanagement is one of the best ways to improve company morale. Micromanaging is a vicious cycle. Let’s look at an example:
Todd is a content writer. Todd is a very good content writer. He graduated at the top of his class, he’s witty and well-spoken, and he’s able to break down complex ideas into easy to understand laymen’s terms.
Marjory is his boss. Marjory is a lovely person but a self-proclaimed “perfectionist.” Every time she receives an article from Todd, she spends several hours making edits like “are we sure about this word choice?” and “I think there’s a better reference for this statistic somewhere.” She checks in on Todd’s progress hourly, “Have you seen my edits yet?”
This leads Todd to spend less time editing because “Marjory is going to edit it anyway.” This leads to a lower quality of work that Marjory, in turn, uses to validate her belief that, “No one can do this job as well as I can!” Now Marjory is doing Todd’s job, leaving less time for the important things in her work. Everyone suffers.
Micromanagement isn’t a product of “perfectionism.” It’s a product of mistrust. Micromanagers don’t trust that anyone could possibly do a job as well and/or as thoroughly as they could. A lack of trust invalidates your employees’ belief that they are good at their jobs. And there is nothing more demotivating than feeling underappreciated.
It’s simple psychology. When you treat people as if they can’t be trusted, they become less trustworthy. For instance, micromanaging timesheets and clock-ins is the fastest way to encourage your employees to find ways around the restrictions. Installing jigglers on mouses, time-change software, double swiping badges–that’s time and brain-space they could be using to actually work.
Instead, allow your people flexible hours and basic freedom, and you will receive a tenfold increase in productivity and innovation. It’s basic psychology. Don’t believe us? Try to remember being a teenager.
When you felt condescended to, did you react by picking up the pace and working diligently? We doubt it. We bet you dragged your feet, sighed heavily the entire time, and generally made life miserable for everyone around you. Hopefully, we’ve evolved emotionally as adults, but that aversion to being treated like a child lives on inside of us.
If you’re hiring for culture, you should be able to avoid the worst HR issues, but even in the off case that someone badly misbehaves or breaks trust (it happens)–fire them. It’s that simple. Trust is a two-way street, and you get to make those calls as leadership. Just remember not to punish your other and future employees for that person’s mistakes.
Learn How to Motivate a Team at Workplace Workshops
If you want more leadership strategies to motivate your team, contact iProv. We hold team-building workshops and consultations to help you build the best and most motivated team possible!