How to Motivate your Team in Challenging Times

Practical ways to motivate

Motivation: the art of getting people to do what you want them to do, because they want to do it. Sounds good?

Let’s talk about motivation – what can a manager do to motivate the team? To make the team want to achieve the business goals just as much as they do? There are a number of theories around on this topic. Here we will focus on motivation at work, in which case a good chap to have a chat with would be the psychologist Frederick Herzberg. We will take a look at his Two Factor Theory of Motivation, which he shared with the world in 1959.

Regular catch ups are important for managers
Schedule regular catch-ups to maintain motivation
Hygiene Factors

Hygiene factors at work can be likened to hygiene at home – a source of complaint if not right, but not a reason to get excited. The idea is that hygiene factors will not motivate you, but if they are missing or not right, they cause dissatisfaction.

Examples could be working toilets, comfy chairs, a working heating system, or a reasonable level of pay. If these are not provided, they can be a huge source of dissatisfaction. As Herzberg discovered, removing the source of annoyance (the toilets are no longer blocked, here’s your chair and the heating’s working again!) does not cause motivation. The opposite of dissatisfied is not motivated – it’s just no longer dissatisfied.

In summary, we need hygiene factors to be in place and correct. They’re never going to motivate anybody, but they do have the potential to demotivate.


Herzberg’s second set of factors are known as motivators. He argued that active motivation is based around these; they enable people to derive satisfaction from their work and they provide a stimulus to work harder.

Here are some examples – which ones could you work on with your team?

  • A sense of achievement – give the team something to achieve and acknowledge them when they do. Agree SMART goals which are also stretching.
  • Recognition for the work donebehaviour that is rewarded will continue! Praise them when praise is due. Also provide constructive feedback to help them to do it even better.
  • A chance to take on more responsibility – delegate tasks as much as possible, to demonstrate your faith in their abilities.
  • A chance to use their initiative – when delegating a task, where possible try and give them the what but not the how, i.e. specify the end goal but let them decide how they get there. They will feel very involved and the commitment and ownership will be instant.
  • Doing interesting work – aim to delegate a balanced range of tasks, so they get to try something different. Variety is the spice of life!
  • Personal growth – ensure the team members have the skill and the will to do their jobs well. Some may have a skills gap. Provide the relevant training so they can learn and develop in their role. Help them to be the best they can be!
A final thought

All of the above sounds good, but it all starts with you. Leading by example is a huge motivator. Good leaders have willing followers. If you can be positive and enthusiastic about work, then your team can too. But if you can’t, don’t hold your breath!

Tips to Build Self-Leadership in Challenging Times

Self-leadership is never as important as now. There are so many avenues in life where we can find ourselves lost. Some roads place us in marvellous spectacles. Other roads take us perilously close to the edge of our greatest dread, while others encourage, by their very nature, an opportunity to playfully explore and challenge ourselves.

Whatever road we happen to be on, how we view the scenery can so often be through the perspective of past experiences. Where some might see a playground of exciting possibilities, others see danger.

How we view the world around us can affect the way we interact, our ability to absorb new information, and ultimately impact the way we see ourselves.

Woman Stands on Mountain over Field Under Cloudy Sky at Sunrise

Stop judging yourself by what happens to you in life

A wise man once said that it is our failures that define our success. It’s important to reflect and realise that sometimes failures are not what they seem. They may have been nothing more than a forced change of direction. An interruption to a narrow view. Sometimes life is just random and that these events happen not to conspire against us, but to offer an opportunity to define who we are and what we believe in. To show us something new about ourselves.

As humans we don’t like random, cognitively it’s much more pleasing to think logically and to join the dots. This happened because of this, therefore… It is the mistake of the ages and why gamblers are so addicted. My luck is due to change, I can’t keep losing? Understanding this simple philosophy – that life is beyond our control – is to choose by strength. Enjoying the present is where our focus should be, and is a key to self-leadership and inner confidence.

Forgive yourself and others for past mistakes

There is no greater gift you can give yourself than forgiveness. As part of life’s experience, you must live your mistakes and allow others to live theirs. Some mistakes leave you feeling overwhelmed ‘how could I have been so stupid?’ It’s a dangerous outlook and breeds bad habits.

Harbouring anger for what others have done is also a serious diversion from the present. When we run ourselves or others down, it affects the way we see things. I am a victim, or I am stupid, are labels that mean nothing. Yet they give us infinite excuses like ‘why bother?’ or ‘I am not worth this’ when an opportunity comes along.


Self-defeating attitudes linger like bad breath and affect the way we experience new flavours. Instead consider, I move forward in life with grace and ease, and with kindness to myself and all that I touch.

There are no losers, only an ill-fitting label that becomes a barrier to the next great view. In some areas you will define yourself with success and others will be an intersection to a better road.

The ultimate thrill in life is it is your choice of which direction to take. How can you build your self-leadership going forwards?