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9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership

9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership

Motivation drives nearly every action of our lives. Think about it, what motivated you to walk into the kitchen and make a sandwich? Hunger. What motivated you to get up and go to work this morning? At the very basic level, it was probably the desire to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

Motivation is an incredibly powerful force in our lives and is part of our human nature. We all need a “why” to push towards.

This “why” is behind every business idea that has ever been put into action — both successfully and unsuccessfully. You as a manager may have buckets of self-motivation that never runs dry, however, if that drive can’t be passed on to those around you, then accomplishing the goals of the group will be difficult, if not next to impossible.

Project deadlines, long-term growth, and even day-to-day objectives depend on solid leadership that fosters motivation.

Understanding the importance of motivation in team members, and knowing how to go about building this is a requirement of every leader’s toolkit. There’s no concrete method for motivation — after all, human nature can be unpredictable.

While motivation in leadership may at times be incredibly challenging, its benefits can mean the difference between an exceptional team and a floundering one. Let’s break down the relationship between leadership and motivation and how to go about building it in your team members.

1. Motivated Members Make for a Stronger Team

At its very basic level, strong leadership motivation allows a team or company to accomplish its goals. If nobody is motivated to do the work, then nothing is going to get done. It doesn’t get more plain and simple than that.

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Disengaged team members can place a company in a very risky position. On the other side of that coin, employees who are motivated and actively engaged in the work their company is doing make for an organization with stronger output.

Imagine you have a team of seven employees and all seven are motivated to accomplish a single goal. Now imagine that same team and only two of the employees are motivated and the other five would rather waste the workday surfing around the internet. Accomplishing that single goal is going to require a lot more time and energy.

2. Better Communication Equates to More Success

Communication is, without a doubt, one of the key elements to strong leadership that fosters motivation. People have a natural desire to feel recognized and learning how to effectively communicate with your team members, both one-on-one and as a group will make all the difference.

According to a 2014 Gallup survey of 1,015 workers, 46 percent of them said that they rarely or never leave a meeting understanding what they are supposed to do.[1] This statistic should be a wakeup call to every leader that they need to refine how they communicate with their staff.

How is someone on your team supposed to successfully carry out a task if they’re unsure of what the task entails, why they’re doing it, or how to best go about it? Effective leaders are always good communicators and motivation is a product of that.

3. Projecting a Positive Attitude Is Paramount

Henry Ford said,

“Think you can or think you can’t. Either way, you are correct.”

Optimism is a leader’s most important tool in fighting employee pessimism that can kill motivation and derail goals. If you’re not motivated to be a better leader, then creating motivation in those around you is going to be difficult.

As a leader, you’re not just directing the duties of who does this or that, but molding people’s beliefs in the work they do. From the emails that you use to communicate with employees to how you conduct yourself in the break room, a positive attitude sends the message that you have confidence in your team. That’s an incredibly powerful tool in cultivating motivation.

4. Focus on Intrinsic Over Extrinsic Motivation

It can be easy for leaders to focus on extrinsic motivation which translates into people being motivated because of the opportunity for reward or fear of punishment. While setting the bar to meet a certain sales quota in order to attain a bonus, or risk being fired can be a powerful motivator, it’s only tapping into one type of motivation.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when people are motivated to perform a behavior or activity because it results in personal satisfaction.

A perfect example of this is a 2013 study that looked at nurses who were assembling surgical kits.[2] Nurses who met the health-care practitioners who would use their kits worked longer and made fewer errors than the nurses who never met the user of those kits.

5. Make Individual Connections That Communicate the “Why”

As pointed out in the example above, the nurses had a greater connection with the “why” behind their task of assembling the surgical kits. A text message can communicate this “why” to team members, but it may not always be the most effective way of building motivation.

Leaders grow and thrive when then they establish strong bonds with those on their team by getting to know them. Relationships build real motivation and when you know your team members on more than just a name basis, you have a greater chance of communicating the “why” behind the goal. In turn, your employees are more likely to care about the work they do.

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6. Praise Team Members and Build Motivation

There’s a reason that your teacher put a gold star sticker on your homework when you got all the questions correct. Positive praise simply feels good and people like to be recognized for a job well done.

According to a study by Harvard Business School, employees who receive praise from a manager are more motivated — i.e. more productive — than those who do not receive praise.[3] What a surprise, people who are told “job well done” are more motivated to continue doing good work.

If a leader demonstrates to those around them that their work is valued and appreciated, those team members are going to feel more motivated to tackle the next task at hand. Learn more about this type of motivation: 5 Ways to Make the Best Use of Extrinsic Motivation

7. Hold People Accountable and Provide Feedback

Equally as important as a leader’s ability to praise, is a leader’s ability to correct mistakes or improper actions. When a leader neglects poor performance, it can set a dangerous precedent and demotivate previously engaged employees. People simply aren’t as motivated to do good work when others on the team don’t pull their weight and a leader doesn’t step in to correct it.

Whereas praising a team member in view of others can be a powerful motivator for the entire team, correcting an employee in private can preserve employee egos. By providing feedback to a team member in private, you’ll be in a better place to motivate without the distraction of others.

8. Ask Questions Often and Work Towards Solutions

A motivating leader regularly engages with those around them to find out where they stand with the job. People need to know that their leaders have a genuine interest in their role on a team and an opportunity to express concerns or share ideas.

  • Does your team member have all the resources they need?
  • Are they being challenged or encouraged to develop new skills?
  • Do they see a problem that’s not being addressed?

Don’t underestimate the value that showing a genuine interest in an employee’s role can have in creating motivation. By asking questions often and listening to your employees, they’ll feel that they’re more equipped in taking on new responsibilities and have greater respect for leadership.

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9. Promote a Healthy Working Lifestyle

Workers who are healthy and happy are going to be more productive and feel better about showing up each day to get the job done. Employee burn out is a real thing and if employees are constantly being pushed to work longer hours with more responsibilities, motivation can suffer and resentment towards the leadership can emerge.

There are times, of course, when burning the midnight oil is simply part of the job. Making the right moves, though, can prevent tired employees from throwing their arms up and walking out the door. Healthy initiatives from providing healthy snacks, to building in an activity to provide a little stress relief can help keep a team motivated.

Final Thoughts

Effective leadership creates results, and in order to achieve those results and set bigger and better goals, a leader must understand motivation’s role to the “why.” When a leader is able to translate this message to their team members and act as a role model and teacher, they’ll surround themselves with more motivated employees.

Leadership motivation encompasses a range of factors and each plays a part in a team’s overall success. It might start with a leader’s self-motivation, but it should include the entire team as a whole.

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Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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