Imagine being able to simply walk into a room and instantly inspire people to do their best work.
Unfortunately, few of us have that kind of aura. There appears to be only a select few genes that are capable of producing bonafide, natural-born leaders, which means the rest of us have to work hard to become great managers.
At the heart of great management lies the ability to motivate, because motivation is the one thing that will spur teams on to do their best work and be as productive as possible. Again, the ability to be a great motivator doesn’t arrive overnight – you need to work hard at it, day-in, day-out.
What follows are some fantastic, tried-and-tested tips for team motivation. If up until now you feel like you’ve been learning on the job as a manager, these ten, actionable pieces of advice will provide a focus for your efforts and enable you to harness the latent leadership capabilities you have within.
1. Always be accessible
“My door’s always open,” said many a manager. But what does that mean, exactly? More importantly, why did the door always appear to be closed (either metaphorically or literally) when you needed your manager the most?
The cornerstone of management is accessibility. You should never be far from your team’s grasp. If they need you – which they will, regularly – they should know instantly where to turn and also be sure of the fact that you won’t fob them off or suggest you’re too busy.
This doesn’t mean answering your mobile while on holiday or responding to emails in the dead of night – it simply requires you to be approachable, always (even if the response is delayed because you’ve just put your feet up after a long day).
2. Dispense with smoke and mirrors
It’s easy to fall into the management trap of treating your team as though they’re only allowed occasional glimpses into the inner workings of the business. The more smoke and mirrors you envelope your team in, the more you’ll disenchant them.
You can’t let on about confidential company information, but you can be honest. If you find yourself grabbing for an excuse in order to avoid telling a team member something – stop yourself and tell them the truth.
3. Get to know your team (no – really get to know them)
How well do you know your team? Perhaps you’re aware of the fact Dave likes to play squash every Wednesday evening, or that Sarah is an accomplished pianist, but is that enough?
Unfortunately – it isn’t. To really motivate and inspire teams, you need to know the individual members very well indeed. And we’re not talking friendship-levels of knowledge, either – just an understanding of who they are and what drives them.
The more you know your team, the more you’ll know how to motivate them – it’s that simple.
4. Embrace modern working methods
Many experts believe the 9-5 working pattern is fast becoming a thing of the past. With cloud technology now affording home working and temporary offices to be set up virtually anywhere, teams are mobilised and employees increasingly expect a degree of flexibility for their working arrangements.
If you’ve managed teams for a considerable amount of time, the thought of relaxing the rules on when and where people work can be understandably unsettling, but by embracing modern working methods, you’ll prove that you trust your team to do their best work, regardless of where they happen to be.
The traditional office is changing – for the better. Jump on board and make the most of what should result in significant productivity increases within your team!
5. Encourage a constant flow of ideas
So many entrepreneurs have cited their desire to employ people who are clearly more skilled than them as a major reason for their success.
It sounds daft. Why bring in people who are better than you? Doesn’t that put your own position at risk?
In truth – yes, it does, but in turn, it’ll inspire you to work harder, learn faster and feed off the knowledge inherent within your team. By encouraging smart people to work for you and constantly supply you with new ideas, you’ll build a team that is capable of practically anything, and you’ll grow significantly in stature yourself.
6. Demonstrate your own knowledge
You’re a manager and leader of a team because you’re knowledgeable. When you’re suffering from a bout of imposter syndrome (that unnerving feeling that you’re out of your depth), remind yourself that you’re there for a reason.
A great way to do this and motivate your team at the same time is to regularly demonstrate your knowledge. Remember – what might be bread and butter to you, could be a revelation for members of your team. Show them what you’ve learned, and it’ll inspire them to forge new paths of their own.
7. Make accountability a team mantra
Accountability is often mistaken for blame, but the opposite is true. If someone slips up within a team, it’s vital that they feel empowered to own up and show everyone what went wrong.
We all make mistakes, but if employees work in an environment that pours scorn over errors and treats them as mini crimes, they’ll never feel encouraged to experiment or push boundaries.
Make it clear to your team that everyone is accountable – including yourself.
8. Be honest when you don’t know the answer
As noted above, accountability is a vital asset for building a team that is inventive and unafraid to break things in the pursuit of innovation. Similarly, if you don’t know the answer to something, it’s far better to own up than invent one.
You’re human, and despite the fact you’re paid more than the people in front of you and attend higher-level meetings, you don’t know everything – no one does. If a member of staff asks you a question to which you simply don’t know the answer – own up. They’ll realise that you’re just as fallible as them, and that can be a very inspiring thing indeed.
9. Don’t rule by fear
One of the absolute worst things you can do as a manager is to rule by fear. If people are publicly (or privately) lambasted when they get something wrong, they’ll be far less inclined to push boundaries.
You can’t motivate a team if they’re scared of you. Equally, you need to be careful to avoid crossing that perilous line between boss and mate, but get it right, and you’ll end up with a bunch of people working for you who enter the office feeling inspired and completely unafraid to challenge the norms of their job.
When someone does something wrong or clearly has issues that need addressing, do so in a compassionate manner and in a way that demonstrates your desire for them to achieve the things they’re capable of.
10. Show you’re human
The world of work is a stressful place at times, and emotions run high. As a manager, it’s important that you remain professional when the going gets tough, but there’s absolutely no harm in occasionally showing your emotions.
A passionate speech or even the shedding of a tear or two will show that you’re human. From your staff’s perspective, it’ll motivate them to do the same, and what would you prefer – a team of robots or a team of passionate human beings who have built an emotional connection between themselves and the business?
Management is hard, but if our ten tips above have one thing in common, it’s that they all rely on the ability to show your human side.
The office would be a very dull place indeed if it was full of emotionless robots. And, while it might be tempting to put up an indestructible veneer every time you enter your place of work, you’ll build a far more inspired, motivated team if you show your human side as regularly as possible.