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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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