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9 Powerful Ways To Motivate Your Team To Strive For Excellence

9 Powerful Ways To Motivate Your Team To Strive For Excellence

It is a known fact that one of the most compelling reasons employees leave their job is because they feel unappreciated, or that they bring no real value to their team. If you want to motivate your team to do their very best, you as the leader have to let them know that they are a vital part of your team. In order to motivate and build up a team for excellence, there are some key steps that you should follow if you want your company to be successful.

1. Build a relationship with your team. 

This does not mean that you should hang out with them at the local bar, or become one of their weekend buddiesWhat it does mean is that if you want to motivate your team to excellence, then you should take the time to get to know your team personally by talking individually to them at different times, asking basic questions, and letting them see that you are human and accessible. People will find it difficult to “go along” with you if they cannot “get along” with you.

2. Recognize them as a person, not just their ability. 

Too often, we are quick to praise people for a job well done, but we fail to let the person know that we appreciate them as a person. Praise them for that job well done, but take notice of their personal qualities and talents and how they bring value to the team. This should be done in person randomly so that they can see that you are the one who noticed and you know they are on your team. For example: “Hey Johnny, those were some great ideas you came up with in the team meeting today, I like the way you think!” BOOM! Johnny’s self-worth just went to the penthouse! He just saw the word “motivate” in action.

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3. Learn their names.  

One of the most valuable things we have as a person is our name. It is what identifies us and makes us stand out among the others. Something very special happens when we hear our name – it tells us that we are important! I guarantee you that when you as a leader call your team members out by name and speak to them, they will sit up and take notice. They will soon realize they are not just a number to you. Most of us know that one of the most prominent coffee shops in the world built their whole business on learning your name, one customer at a time.

4. Treat your team to something special. 

The size and the nature of what you offer your team depends on your budget and the size of your team. Of course, this is not something you are going to do on a daily or even weekly basis, but you can try to do it as a monthly reward. There are so many ideas that come to mind for this, but the important thing to remember is that it is not the size of the treat but the thought behind it. They need to see it is real and dear to your heart. This might include going to the local coffee shop and buying them their favorite drinks, or catering in a lunch that is healthy and filling. This not only lets them see they are valued but it brings the team together to function as one by getting to know each other. When I managed a local coffee shop, we sold home baked cookies. Every day we baked them fresh, and we had a lawyer who would come in every afternoon and ordered two dozen for his staff. Get creative as there are many ways to “treat your team.”

5. Make their success public.  

Take time in your team meetings each week to recognize and talk about the people who made a difference that week. Let the rest of the team see that you took notice and you appreciate it. This makes others want to push harder and do more as they see that hard work is valued. Many times other team members do not know what has happened in other departments, or the accomplishments that they have had, so this is also a great way for your team to keep up with the latest and greatest.

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6. Set high but attainable goals.  

Excellence cannot be achieved in one day, but it can be achieved over time with everyone working together. People soon get discouraged when they see that the goals that you are requiring are way out of their reach. When we set goals for our team, they should be high enough that they will have to work at them and put in the effort, but they should not be unreasonable to the point that the person just gives up. An unattainable goal might be asking them to “sign 25 new clients this week” as opposed to “meet with 10 potential clients this week.” Ask yourself if the goals you are setting and expecting are ones that you yourself could achieve if you were in their shoes.

7. Create a contest with a reward.  

Whether we like it or not, people like incentives and they like ones that benefit them or their loved ones. Think about things that would mean the world to you if had worked hard. When I was the director of a large bilingual school in Colombia, South America, the rewards my team loved the most were things like the following: leaving work early on Friday; a one hour lunch break; choosing one extra day off; or, late arrival for one day. If it is a big thing you are asking of your team for the month then you can create a longer-running contest and reward them with something a little more costly such as a night and dinner in an expensive hotel, a day at the spa, or golf day at the local club. There are many things that you can do with this one, but if you are short of ideas, you could always survey your team and ask them what they would find rewarding.

8. Be a part of the team.  

It is amazing how team leaders suddenly feel as though their position has removed them from being a team member. Your team will know you are the leader by the way you lead, and if you are constantly having to remind them of that, then something has gone awry. Getting in and being willing to join in on their different tasks not only makes you a part of the team, but also gives you a great opportunity to show them ways they can improve. When I was the director of the school mentioned above, I never stayed in my office – I was always looking for ways to motivate my team. I was known as the traveling manager, and that was a compliment to me because I wanted my staff to know I was there with them. I went to the different classrooms, and dropped in to see how my teachers were doing. Many times I even sat and ate lunch in the cafeteria with different classrooms and their teacher. My staff knew by my actions that I was a hands-on manager and that I was interested in what they were doing. This also helped me to see what needed to be done in order to achieve the excellence I was looking for.

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9. Have fun! 

No matter how difficult the tasks or goals are, people perform better when they are in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere. After all, we were all kids at one time and everything we tried to do was a chore, but we never gave up and we had fun doing it. Never let the kid in you die! Go to work happy, and let your staff know how much you enjoy being there with them and working together. Motivate them to excellence with joy and fun, and remind them of what it is like to be a kid again.

Having a team that respects you because you earned it and not because you demanded it goes a long way when motivating your team to excellence. If something is missing in order for them to succeed and be the best, then you need to figure out how you can bridge that gap, because after all, without them, you will never achieve greatness. I love this old saying that l learned years ago: “Individuals win trophies but a team wins the championship.”

So, are you looking to win a trophy or a championship? Taking these short simple tricks and applying them to your team will make a world of difference in your company and you will soon begin to see the results. Remember, as a leader, if you turn around and look, and see people behind you, then you are a leader. If you do not, then you are just out on a long walk.

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Featured photo credit: Paul Inkles via flickr.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

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Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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