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!