Motivate your Team for better Results

Motivating a team is often an acquired skill, especially when working remotely. A recent article by Forbes makes interesting reading on how you can motivate your team for better results.

One model of motivation comes from the work of Torrington and Hall. Here they combine many of the more recent motivational theories to create a succinct checklist of factors:

  • Variety in the work individuals carry out
  • Autonomy in determining methods and tools of work
  • Responsibility in making decisions, problem solving
  • Challenge – stretching the individual to meet objectives
  • Interaction – Necessary contact with others for performance
  • Significance – Identity and contribution, recognition for work
  • Goals and Feedback – Knowing what we are aiming for and how we are doing

However good the checklist above is, remember that we are all different! What may motivate one member of your team may have zero effect on another.

Motivate your Team for better Results

If you don’t know where to even start with motivating someone in your team, here are three things you could do:

Ask questions

Sometimes we lack courage to ask what motivates another person for fear that they will take it as a negative. This may be true, but not in every case. The more we can find out about what satisfies someone, the more we can shape their work to bring it in line with the checklist above.

Example: One person may do much better in a role if it requires them to interact with others. Being able to discuss and create from conversation may work much better for them than asking them to deliver a task on their own.

Observe where their energy is

Observing each other is something we all do all the time. However, when we take time to carefully observe what others do, we may gain some surprising ideas. In fact, we can use observation to generate a strategy together, and in this way improve their role for them so that they are more motivated.

Example: We may notice that one of our team always increases the scope or challenge of their work. Here, we could discuss with them how they would like to make their work even more challenging and responsible, to maintain their engagement.

Create some experiments

Certain team members are harder to gauge. They may not yet know what really motivates them. In this case, it may be worth having a conversation with them to create some small experiments. In doing this, we can start on a path of finding out what motivates them best.

Example: We could increase the variety in their activities and give them more choice in how they do their work (autonomy). We could also experiment with more precise, clear, and chunk-sized goals and feedback. 

In Summary

As managers and team leaders, we probably work with all three of these: asking questions, observing, and experimenting. This is time well spent, as increased motivation leads to increased productivity.

Recent research shows motivation to be more intrinsic in nature. This clip by Daniel Pink, on his research about the surprising things that motivate us, may be useful:

PS Are you recently promoted to a role managing people? You might like to read this next:

These are just a few thoughts on how to motivate your team for better results. A motivated team will be more productive, and therefore, profitability will increase.


Improve your Problem Solving and Decision-Making skills

Automation, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence (machine learning) have increased rapidly of late. Technology makes many decisions on our behalf on a daily basis. Despite this, problem solving and decision making are still some of the most sought-after human skills. Professionals in the workplace need these skills to maximise efficiency, productivity, and both team and individual performance. This article will explore just 4 of the ways you can improve your problem solving and decision-making skills:

improve your problem solving and decision making skills
Define a clear problem statement

When trying to solve challenges, it is important to understand the issue that needs to be addressed. Write a clear problem statement. It is the crucial first step in the process. Stanford University lists this as a critical step in the Design Thinking process.

According to Wikipedia “A problem statement is a concise description of an issue to be addressed, or a condition to be improved upon. It identifies the gap between the current (problem) state and desired (goal) state of a process or product. Focusing on the facts, the problem statement should be designed to address the Five W’s.“ (Who, What, When, Where, Why)

Draw a Fishbone diagram

A fishbone diagram, sometimes called a cause-and-effect diagram, or an Ishikawa diagram, is a visual tool to understand the potential causes of a problem, in order to help identify its root cause.

We can also use this diagram to ask “Why” five times to try to understand more deeply why the problem occurred.

Benefits of a fishbone diagram include the following:

  • A highly visual brainstorming tool which can spark further examples of root causes.
  • A way to quickly identify if the root cause is found multiple times in the same or different causal tree.
  • A tool which allows us to see all causes simultaneously.
Brainstorm effectively

Most people have heard of brainstorming and have taken part in a brainstorming session. However, few do it effectively.

When brainstorming ideas, it is critical not to judge the ideas. Simply write down as many as possible. Dr Linus Pauling, the only person ever to have won the Nobel Prize twice, once said: “to have a good idea, you need to have lots of ideas “. Too many people make the mistake of trying to think of one magic solution.

Furthermore, in order to facilitate the brainstorming process, it is far better to stand up around a flipchart or a whiteboard than sit down around a meeting table. It is scientifically proven that we are more creative when we stand up or move around as the blood flows faster around our body.

Draw a Mind Map

Another great technique to solve problems, think creatively, and help us make decisions, is to use mind maps. Research suggests that our brain works by connecting one idea to the next. Mind mapping our thoughts will help us see the whole picture. See below 5 simple steps to draw a mind map:

  1. Take a piece of paper and turn it sideways (landscape).
  2. Write your main idea or topic in the middle of the page.
  3. Write other ideas that branch out from this main topic or idea.
  4. Use key words or as much detail as you like.
  5. Use different colours and images if you wish.

Perhaps you feel it’s time for you to Improve your Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills!