One of the most important parts of leading a team is knowing how to keep everyone motivated. If your team is unmotivated, they are more likely to make mistakes or lack the energy to finish a project. Even if you finish the project on time without issues, you may lose team members for future projects.
Another downside to not having a motivated team is it reflects poorly on you as a team leader. Your management may appoint someone else to be team leader in the future to help improve morale.
The larger the team, the more challenging it is to keep the members motivated. Everyone is driven by different goals and desires, so as a team leader you must work hard to make sure every team member feels motivated. Depending on the project, you may have to adjust your methods. There are a few general motivational techniques appropriate for every team.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
It may sound like a cliché, but one of the best things you can do to motivate your team is to remain positive. If you come into work with a negative attitude, your team assumes something is wrong with the project. A negative attitude means you are less likely to provide positive feedback to your team, which causes morale to decline.
Maintaining a positive attitude does not mean agreeing to everything your team suggests. For example, if you have to turn down an idea, do not just dismiss it. Explain why the idea is not viable for your project. Make it clear to your employee you appreciate the fact he or she is trying to come up with ways to improve the project.
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Many leaders struggle with maintaining a positive attitude and being honest with your team. If something goes wrong, you cannot sugarcoat it to your team, but you cannot appear defeated. Be upfront about what goes wrong, but show you are confident you and your team can adjust to or push through a difficult situation.
Payment and Work Environment
If you want a motivated team, pay your team members what they are worth and provide a comfortable place to work. Unfortunately, being in charge of a team does not always mean you have control over payment or work environment. Many team leaders are in middle management positions, meaning they must consult with their bosses for salary or space changes. Do not be afraid to speak to your boss about providing bonuses to your employees. Even if you are unable to get a payment boost, your employees appreciate the fact you recognize what they are worth and are trying to provide them fair wages.
If you are unable to change work spaces, at least take the time to make sure the current workspace is clean and accommodating to the project. If the team has to constantly move to another part of the building to access supplies, see if you can work with everyone else in the building to have the supplies moved closer. If possible, consider taking your team out to lunch every so often, even if it means paying out of pocket. Taking your team out to lunch is a good way to praise them for hard work and is a good way to get the team away from stressful situations.
Collaborate with the Team
One of the ways motivation drops for many employees is when they feel their opinion is not respected. As a team leader, one of your duties is to consult and listen with your team. If anyone has input or suggestions on how to improve the team or the project, take the time to listen to them. When your team members are talking to you, show you are engaged by doing the following:
- Ask questions to show you are listening and considering what your team says.
- Get feedback on how everything is going with the project, especially if your team member is suggesting a change to how the project runs.
- If possible, implement the suggested changes, or work with your employee to come up with a compromise.
- If the change or suggestion is not possible to implement at the time, talk about using the suggestion for a future project. You can ask your team member if you can share his or her idea with your boss, as it may help with other projects.
Another reason it is important to collaborate with your team is it gives you a chance to learn their work style. For example, many employees do not like a micromanaging team leader, but there are some workers who do much better when someone is carefully watching their work. As team leader, you need to shift between working with the whole team in mind and addressing the individual needs of each member.
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When you know what everyone on your team is capable of, it is easier to set clear goals. Setting clear goals is one of the most effective ways to collaborate with your team and keep everyone motivated. With clear goals, every member of the team knows exactly what he or she is working towards, and they know when they are making progress on these goals. Additionally, team members are more likely to catch errors if they know their exact goals.
If you want to maintain motivation, you need your team to believe in you. If you are an absentee leader, you cannot motivate your team. Similarly, if you are not a decisive leader, your team loses faith in your ability to lead. Do not say you are going to do something if you know you cannot complete the task. Consistently work with your team so you are up to date with everything they are doing. If someone finishes a task earlier than expected, make sure he or she has a new task. Do not expect your team members to do anything not asked of them.
Even the most dedicated team is bound to make mistakes. Whether large or small, mistakes have the potential to devastate team motivation. One of the worst things you can do is punish someone for making a mistake. Your team member likely feels bad enough for messing up, punishing them further only hurts his or her motivation. Do not outright ignore the mistake, since this makes you look like an unobservant leader. Instead, learn from the mistake and when necessary, work with your team to keep the mistake from reoccurring. One of the best ways to boost motivation is getting your team to band together after a mistake to push through it. This lessens the impact of the mistake and reinforces the strength of the team.
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