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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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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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