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Unlock the Power of Motivation: 6 Steps to Get the Best Out of Your People

My blogs often focus on people and teams and how they tick, but to get the most out of our people, we need to look at what creates a productive and effective workforce and how to develop a culture of performance through dialogue.

However, I’ve not yet addressed one essential driver of performance. Something that can be difficult to define, may have a very different meaning for each of us, but if missing, can impact individual and team effectiveness hugely.

I’m referring, of course, to motivation. It’s something that’s been front of mind for me recently as I’ve drafted CPD e-learning modules on the topic and because of observations I’ve made in the course of working with teams. It’s also a subject that’s cropped up in a personal context: in conversations I’ve been having with a friend who’s feeling particularly unmotivated in their job.

As employers and employees, we must try to be aware of what motivates and de-motivates ourselves and those around us. In the workplace, many of us will share some common motivational drivers – most obviously around the rewards we receive for our labour in the form of salary and benefits.

But motivation goes much deeper than this and is far more subtle. Much of it happens on a subconscious level. You know when you’re feeling especially fired up or particularly sapped of enthusiasm, but how often do you take time to analyse the cause, so you can either replicate or avoid the feeling in future? Probably not as often as you should, and the same is likely to be true when it comes to managing a team or working with colleagues. But understanding what makes yourself and others tick can be vital when it comes to getting to the root of why something isn’t working as it should or re-igniting passion where it may have dropped.

When you discuss performance with an employee, your focus will be on communicating what you want them to achieve or do differently and ensuring you get the dialogue right. For a conversation to be truly effective though, it must do more than just make your expectations clear; it needs to leave the other party feeling motivated and enthused about what you want them to do.

 Here are 6 things you can do to unlock the power of motivation and help inspire individuals and teams in your organisation to deliver their best:

 1. Learn what motivates your people

As the motivator, you can only light the fuse – the response must come from within the person you want to motivate, and this means making an effort to find out what motivates the individuals in your team.

Each of us is motivated by a unique and complex interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Learning what these are for each of your people will be key to creating an environment that encourages everyone to deliver their best.

Identifying what these drivers are is something that both parties need to work on in the conversations they have with each other. It’s a delicate balance – while showing little interest certainly won’t help motivation levels, too much enquiry might be seen as intrusive. Only by identifying and acknowledging what these drivers are will it be possible to recognise if something is missing and, if it is, take action to rectify it.

2. Think about the makeup of your team & give recognition where it’s due

To ensure employees feel motivated, you need to help them understand exactly where they fit into the team and what you expect their contribution to be – so they can deliver their best, and you can recognise their efforts appropriately.

For example, the input of an employee in an administrative role will be very different to that of a colleague in, say, a fee-earning sales position, but their contributions will be equally critical to the team’s overall performance and must be recognised as such. It might be easy to overlook the efforts of the employee in the admin role, but if their specialist skills are not given appropriate recognition, they’re likely to feel disconnected.

3. Check perception matches intention

When you want to highlight an issue and bring about change, it’s essential to make sure any conversations you have delineate between the task being discussed and the individual. If communication is anything less than crystal clear, an individual may take constructive criticism personally – rather than understanding they’re simply being asked to improve an aspect of their work.

Similarly, perception can be blurred, and your intention may be lost if you are too general about performance. For example, saying someone is good or bad at their role is not particularly useful. Instead, conversations need to specifically communicate where performance is good and where there is room for improvement, so the employee is motivated to do more of what they’re good at and get better in the other areas.

4. Be clear about your expectations

If a performance conversation is going to motivate, you need to have clarity about the expectations you have, expressing them clearly and being sure to frame them positively.

Rather than focusing exclusively on areas where improvement is required, you should make sure dialogue also acknowledges and recognises those areas where an individual is performing well in their role. Reassuring someone that you’re generally pleased with their performance will help make them more receptive to discussing areas where you want to see improvement – or identifying issues that might be holding them back.

5. Check emotional balance is in credit

If motivation levels have been allowed to drop below a certain level for a long time, bringing them back up again might present a real challenge. A prolonged period of poor leadership might have got a team to this point, but it may take more than simply introducing good leadership to correct things if the emotional balance of some team members is very low.

We need to recognise when people have run out of motivation. It may be a matter of addressing a core issue that’s impacting motivation and helping someone to reconnect, or it might require an open and honest conversation to uncover what’s missing and take corrective action.

6. Make motivation a partnership

Motivation in the workplace should be a shared responsibility. Everyone needs to make sure that everyone else is happy and motivated and flag up when this is not the case.

Employees need to let their managers know how they prefer to work and what they need to enable them to work better. And managers need to ensure dialogue is open enough that they can pick up on relevant information – and respond accordingly.

Let Us Help You Get the Best Out of Your People!

Motivation can make the difference between a mediocre effort and an excellent performance – and it’s an easy win that should run through all aspects of your HR cycle.

If you need advice and support creating a motivational culture that helps you get the most out of your people: one that promotes the right kind of dialogue and encourages people to bring their very best self to work, Organic P&O Solutions can help. Contact us today for an initial discussion!

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4 Ingredients For Creating Teams Who Will Love Working Together

A team is only as successful as the cohesion it has between its members. Enough cohesion and the team will stick together through the toughest of times. Too little and it will fragment when things don’t go according to plan. But what does a cohesive team look like? What are the ingredients for building cohesion in teams and what do leaders need to focus on to make sure the team members want to deliver mission after mission? Here’s our take on it:

1.Vision with dialogue

Leaders, teams and vision are talked about often. Experience has shown me that leaders with vision are important, but clear communication about the vision that bring it to life for the team, by the team, are the only way that vision can become a reality. The dialogue about the vision needs to have three things: clarity, connection and constant dialogue. And I don’t mean chant it daily, although do that if it works for you! What I mean is relate everyday activity to it, all the time. Strong leaders do this without using the word ‘vision’. If you can’t connect activity to the long term, then question why it’s being done at all and don’t expect your team to be able to connect it for themselves. And when something is happening that will detract from the vision, be clear about what it is and what’s needed and if you need to, re-think the vision itself. Whatever you do, don’t leave it open to unchecked interpretation.

2. Ownership with enquiry

We work on the principle that we’re all adults at work. It means we each ‘own’ our contribution in terms of what we bring and how we bring it to the team. If there is ownership, the leader’s role is a smoother one. Conversely, a lack of ownership, even in just one team member, can divert the whole team’s focus as they become distracted in the unhelpful behaviour. Strong leaders have clear strategies for creating ownership, maintaining it and role modelling it. But what does ownership really look like? For me, it’s when things don’t go according to plan that ownership (or a lack of it) shows up most. Let’s look at an example. Person A mishandles a discussion in a meeting. They’re defensive when challenged about an idea they’ve been working on. If ownership is an intrinsic part of the team’s culture, they feel safe enough to say something like “I was off kilter today and I didn’t handle that meeting/conversation well. I’m sorry. Let me digest where we are and look at how we can move forward from here?”. The other half of the ownership balance is in the response. If ownership is present, there are few (if any) side conversations, no biting sarcasm and no gossip. The leader won’t dismiss the apology or give responses like ‘not to worry about it’. Other team members may enquire, privately with Person A along the lines of “are you ok, what was that about? What happened?” and offer support. They’ll accept and build upon the apology that has been offered. It’s uncomfortable, it happened, now what? Person A retains the responsibility to handle how they behave when they feel ‘off kilter’ in the future and work out what solutions will work for their personality and circumstances. Support has been offered for them to make use of if they feel they need it. It’s dealt with, honestly and transparently, with next steps agreed to learn from it and move past it. But what creates and sustains ownership?

3. Courage with care

I’ve seen courage confused with confidence, positive talk and/or risk taking. All these are important too in the right measure, but for me, courage is essential in team work and it’s about strength of character, empathy and personal investment to the team vision and purpose. It’s easy to celebrate a good result or go the extra mile in a silo, but it takes courage to speak up or provide an opposing view when something isn’t working and/or hold a difficult silence against a popular view. It’s also about having the courage to hold each other to account when something hasn’t been delivered rather than move into martyr/rescue mode. Then, once the point has been made and heard, let go. So, courage, in this definition, is about finding a way to call out the ‘elephant’ in the room, constructively, without playing a blame game, to the person or people that can make a decision. And then it’s deciding to move on. Here, the leader’s role is to encourage people to do right, not be right, if the team is to really break new ground.

4. Recognition with thought

Early in my career, recognition was put to me as the 4th basic human need after food, shelter and safety. But just as people have different preferences for what they eat, where they live and what makes them feel safe and secure. Recognition too, is personal. So simply saying ‘thanks, good job!’ or having a ‘when you do this, we’ll give you that’ approach won’t work if you’re expecting people to bring their full personal investment, courage and commitment to achieving the team goals.

So, what is the answer? As is often the case with people, the answer is in the dialogue. It’s a question, or series of questions and there’s no catch all answer. The most effective recognition givers tend to gain the best team results and they do this through enquiry, observation and thoughtfulness about the individuals, as well as the collective. And then there’s also the issue of timing. Recognise achievement when there’s something to celebrate. And don’t just focus on the task, focus on what you want someone to do more of. Look for it, find it and recognise it in a way that’s meaningful for the individual. Encourage line managers to do the same and you’ll see team engagement flourish.

And while we’re talking about encouragement, don’t confuse it with support. Everyone, no matter how high their experience and competence levels, can be boosted with some well-timed, on point, encouragement from the right source, to do a great job. They might not need any support. They will always benefit from feeling appreciated. And that’s a huge recognition tool that adds nothing to the overheads in your P&L. Where support is needed, identify it and provide it. Where it isn’t, get out of the way with genuine gestures of faith that they’ll deliver. This shows trust. And there’s no bigger human validation mechanism than feeling trusted and appreciated.

We love working with leaders and their teams so they can identify their culture, build on their working relationships and connect with their goals. If you’d like to discuss how we might help, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today for a no obligation consultation.

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