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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with extraordinary advances in the workplace, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Learning how to motivate employees is more important than ever if you want a productive workplace, and it certainly isn’t receiving the attention it deserves. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

Only 12 percent of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation.” Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. And 53% of Americans are unhappy at work[1].

Archaic management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It’s not impossible to learn how to motivate employees as a manager, and it’s important if you want to keep them happy and motivated.

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity.

1. Run Your Team Like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been used all over the globe[2]. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable. Some of the key pieces are explained below.

Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic, develop genuine trust, and enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

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Note that increasing the competency level of employees and offering positive feedback along the way is key. You, as a manager, need to do the same. Nourish your brain, and get a mentor that will keep you at the top of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at were great at rewarding employees, not just with fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations. If you really want to know how to motivate employees, employee recognition is key.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fundraiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

In a world of instant messages, having a conversation about performance, likes, and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world.”

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting to inspire team motivation. Give them access to the knowledge, people, and resources that help them make important choices.

Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck and interject yourself as a benevolent leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations. Allow the employee to perform in the best way possible without someone looking over their shoulder.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

Robin Sharma (a leadership adviser) suggests using the 90/90/1 rule to help improve productivity. Here are the main aspects of the rule.

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Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to an Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and to help learn how to motivate employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning, which robs our focus. Mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and click away from your Instagram feed.

Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business.

Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To-Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards[3].

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do,” “Doing,” and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other.

Use a Kanban board to learn how to motivate your employees.

    I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first-out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate and then take on what will truly move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

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    With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes, and leave the sizzling steak?

    Approach your work with a weighted vengeance, and encourage your team to do the same.

    3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

    The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy, and passion.

    You can check out this article to learn how to connect passion and purpose.

    “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” —Richard Leider

    An ace team-member once told me that, while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person and did not want to sit behind a desk, sifting through lines of code.

    What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is that she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests, which allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

    Here’s what you can do when you want to learn how to motivate your employees with these ideas in mind.

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    Ask If They Like What They’re Doing

    If a team member is frustrated, unmotivated, or not performing in the best way possible, one of the questions you should ask is if they feel good doing what they’re doing. Then, genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether it’s in the same team/company or not).

    There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion, and help pave the way for your team to do the same to increase job satisfaction overall.

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” -Steve Jobs

    The Bottom Line

    Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive work environments. Some will climb out of it, but it is incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employees.

    Teach them the ropes. Advise them as you would yourself. Let them lead and make mistakes. Do not fear them, but make them the leader you would want to become.

    For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

    Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

    More on How to Motivate Employees

    Featured photo credit: Clayton Cardinalli via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Shabbir Evershine

    Foodie, techie, travel buff, bibliophile, and founder @ proptech startup —some days, I’m all 5.

    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity Top 10 Leadership Tips from My Geek Trip

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

    Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

    Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

    Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

    Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

    By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

    The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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    1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

    Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

    Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

    Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

    When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

    The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

    Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

    To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

    Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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    We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

    It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

    After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

    Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

    Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

    To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

    Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

    Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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    When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

    Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

    We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

    When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

    Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

    2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

    If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

    The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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    To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

    With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

    So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

    • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
    • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
    • Say no to all else.
    • Say no again.
    • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
    • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
    • Meditate.
    • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
    • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
    • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
    • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
    • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
    • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

    Final Thoughts

    These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

    Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

    More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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