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