In a recent study by The Hay Group, as many as 71 percent of American workers reported feeling disengaged and unmotivated. That translates into an estimated $300 billion worth of lost productivity for American businesses every year.
Maximize your company’s productivity with this list of the top 25 tips on how to motivate your team from the pros.
1. Get Feedback from Your Team
Paul Slezak, Co-Founder and CEO, RecruitLoop
The only way to know what really motivates your team is to ask them! You’ll be surprised. What you might think pushes their buttons may in fact be as far from the truth as possible. They will all have intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivators. Some will thrive on having a carrot dangled with promises of financial reward; others will thrive on spontaneous recognition or a simple email praising them for a job well done.
2. Give Your Team Members Autonomy
Jeremy Greenberg, Founder/Web Designer, 97 Switch
If members of your team feel like they have autonomy, they will feel like they have ownership over a specific project. This total control over something allows people to feel like they want to do their best work because the work will represent them. This kind of opportunity attracts top talent as people who are great at what they do are often inspired by being able to showcase their work. With the right people in place for specific projects, it will inspire a lot of positive momentum for the entire company. This allows people to take chances and run with different ideas that they have in a way that can create a lot of new opportunity.
3. Rotate Repetitive Tasks within the Team
Nora St-Aubin, Officevibe Content Marketing Team, Officevibe
Employees can quickly lose motivation for completing tasks that are repetitive and tedious. Assign these types of tasks in rotation whenever possible so that one employee doesn’t end up doing it every time. If only one employee has the skill or expertise to complete the task, be sure to give that employee recognition for their dedication and commitment. Remind your employee why the task is important by showing them the positive impact of their work. This could mean reviewing data that’s been tracked or sharing a testimonial from a client expressing their appreciation.
4. Hire People Who Are Passionate About Their Work
Sandra Rodgers, Community Manager, Cometdocs.com
The first ones who should be in love with your company are your employees. There is no easy way to motivate a team if its members are not on the same page as you and your company. Here, at Cometdocs, we start by employing people who are passionate about the work we do and who clearly understand our mission and vision. Our short- and long-term goals are defined to be as clear as possible in a way everyone can understand them. Once that is done, motivating employees shouldn’t be a difficult process.
5. Change Their Roles (if Necessary)
Kristina Martic, Head of Marketing and Employer Branding, TalentLyft
Do you know if your employees love what they do? Motivation and job satisfaction are highly correlated. That being said, you first need to ensure that your employees are satisfied and that they love their jobs. If you find out that your employees are not happy with their jobs, don’t try to motivate them. Change their roles! This doesn’t have to be a complete role change. You can just try adding some tasks they find interesting. Who knows, you can also discover some of their hidden talents!
If your employee, for example, is a developer who loves to talk with people and customers, don’t just lock him or her up in front of a computer. Extend their role to a Customer Success or Sales Manager.
6. Help Your Team Visualize Personal Goals
Rob Knott, SEO Manager, Thomson Local
If your goal is to increase motivation to improve sales, then don’t just rely on a sales target on a dry wipe board to get the job done. Instead, give each member of your team a reason to care about their personal contribution towards that sales target. A great way to do this is to ask each member of your team for a picture of something that they need money for. For example, one person may want a new car, another a beach holiday. Place these visual cues on the dry wipe board above the sales target and remind your team that hitting targets means getting closer to having those things. This works because you’re not just placing the focus on earning more money to spend.
You’re placing the focus on having the things that they want to own. “Owning” feels like you have gained something of value. “Spending” makes you feel like you are giving away something of value. Never underestimate the power of appealing to a person’s desires to get a job done.
7. Use Big Five Performance Management as a Motivational Tool
Roger Ferguson, Principal and Lead Consultant, iSi Human Resources Consulting LLC
Most motivational tips are conceptual… “As a manager, be a better listener…,” for example. Great idea but lacks in being executable. How do I become a better listener? What do I actually do to become a better listener? Big Five is different. It is a simple process requiring each employee to submit a half-page report, each month, detailing their five most significant accomplishments from last month and their five highest priorities for the current month. Managers respond with praise/affirmation (Go get ’em!), coaching (Don’t forget about the Ferguson account), or correction (See me, we do not seem to be aligned on priorities). These reports are usually due on the fifth day of the month and managers usually have five days to respond, further installing the Big Five process into the culture.
Benefits of this process:
- Gives employees an opportunity to tell their story, taking credit for their contributions.
- Gives managers a great tool to help them plan and prioritize, improving productivity.
- Increases coaching quality and frequency… everyone wants feedback on how they are doing.
- Can totally eliminate the tedious, year-end, annual appraisal process, saving time and money for all.
8. Share Your Purpose and Set Goals with Your Team
Ruth Ullmann, Founder, My Elder Care Journey
People want to belong to something bigger than themselves and make a difference in the world. When business owners share their purpose with their team, and everyone understands why they are in business, people’s devotion to that business and to the purpose become a driving force. People are proud and dedicated to be a part of these types of companies. Then identify a few achievable challenges towards that purpose and have your team put steps into place on how to achieve that in the next 12 weeks. At the same time, develop a celebration for your success. Rotate the roles in these challenges to help people develop new skills. Every quarter, create another challenge towards achieving your business purpose.
9. Remove Roadblocks That Discourage Team Productivity
Jon Brodsky, Country Manager, finder.com
A major source of frustration amongst teams I have worked in has been an inability to get things done. So as a manager, I’ve made removing roadblocks a core focus. Each meeting I have with team members, I ask them if there is anything preventing them achieving their goals, and we work together to find a solution. I’ve seen firsthand how enabling easier access to success can have a dramatic impact on motivation.
10. Celebrate the Wins
Darren A. Smith, Founder, Making Business Matter
People who are driven to win. To achieve. They rarely “enjoy the journey” and have to be “made to do so.” Agree upfront, as a team, what you will all do to celebrate the wins along the way. For example, if someone lands a deal worth more than $100,000, the rest of the team pays for doughnuts in the office or a few drinks out that night. Or the highest earner has the “stuffed Panda” on their desk until the next person has the biggest win. The toy is symbolic and can be anything. From a toy to a picture to a book to a T-shirt. It only matters that the items matter to the team.
11. Address Any Negative Mindset Immediately
Joe Pardo, Business Consultant and Coach, 234 Solutions
A common saying is “why complain, it won’t do any good.” If you have people on your team who have gotten to that point, then it is time to have a serious and honest conversation with your team. Find the weak points that are causing these types of feelings and objectively work on them one by one. Sometimes it may be better to have an outside facilitator come in to hear all of the complaints in a one-on-one situation. Having that person connect the dots and uncover the common issues and misconceptions can enable you to fix the issues.
12. Clearly Define the Goals for Each Task
Roman Daneghyan, CMO, Renderforest
Most managers don’t define goals for each task in the clearest ways, and because of it, the employee doesn’t know if the task is being done well or not. And when managers review the work of the employee for the previous period, they usually get angry if some tasks weren’t done correctly. It’s because the employee didn’t do well in his job—because tasks and goals weren’t described well. We all have to describe tasks well, so the employee knows how is it going to help the company’s growth.
13. Analyze and Optimize Your Team’s Daily Activities
Ali Liaquat, Digital Honcho, Fun Lovin’ Digitals
Make an analysis of actual activities performed by your sales reps. Sometimes, secondary tasks like administration, content creation, marketing tasks and others obstruct the true selling process. That must not happen if you need charged and motivated employees. Make it a habit for your team to optimize their schedule. It is rather exhausting for a regular employee to waste efforts on several tasks at once. On this account, save the energy of your sales staff by optimizing their working schedule. For example, put a couple of tasks in priority order to get the maximum result. Your employees will remain eager to perform for a longer period of time.
14. Create a Safe Learning Environment for Your Team
David Niu, CEO & Founder, TINYpulse
One of our major goals in the coming two years is investing in our people through coaching and career pathing. This initiative is called TINYcoaching, where we create a safe environment for peer-to-peer coaching. They now have a safe place to share anonymous feedback, lead with solutions, and provide recognition to their peers. By creating a safe learning environment, we’ve found a flywheel effect that not only motivates our employees to share knowledge, but also supports them in their long-term careers.
We measure the success of this program by reviewing quantifiable KPIs per team, and have already seen positive results both quantitatively and qualitatively: Sales Development Representative calls connected to SQL conversion rates increased in September by a whopping 83 percent, and then by another 80 percent in November.
15. Show That You Are Personally Interested in Their Career Growth
Steven Benson, Founder and CEO, Badger Maps
As a manager, it’s important to motivate your team by letting them know that you care about them, their career, and their future. Know what your employees’ goals are, align their career accordingly and keep them motivated and engaged by enabling them to reach those goals. As the CEO, I regularly meet with my employees to make sure they’re being adequately challenged in their role and satisfied with their growth and career development. Invest in your team, and help them develop and be more successful through training, feedback and regular one-on-one meetings.
You’ll see that they’ll be more motivated to give it their all, and their performance will improve significantly when they’re passionate about their role and enjoy what they’re doing.
16. Promote Work/Life Balance in the Company
Ben Camerota, President, MVP Visuals
We’ve motivated our sales team by doing our best to offer an environment that preaches work/life balance. Our sales team is involved with minimal travel, so we stress that it’s important to enjoy your life outside of the office as well. If someone has an anniversary coming up, we’ll offer to pay for their dinner and drinks for the evening. An employee was starting to enjoy local yoga classes, so we purchased a monthly pass for her. These are small things to motivate our sales team, but it sets an awesome reminder that we value them as people, not just as employees.
17. Sell Your Team on Your Product
Taylor Toce, President/CEO, Velo IT Group
The number one thing we do at Velo IT Group to motivate and encourage our team is to get them completely and totally sold on our service being the best thing for our clients. This means every morning, in our 9:33 a.m. morning huddle, we share good news about the successes and wins we are having within our client base on a daily basis! This constant flow of positive news in our office about the wins we are having make everyone take a different approach to their day. Especially when it comes to the approach we take to problems. We see all problems as opportunities to improve and impress. Improve our client’s businesses, and impress even the most skeptical client! Share good news constantly and watch the motivation go through the roof!
18. Show How Tasks Contribute to Company Goals
Nettie Owens, CPO-CD®, Sappari Solutions
To-do lists and quotas are useless if they do not have meaning to the company, team and team member who is expected to implement the list. Often the items on the list and the quotas seem arbitrary to the person who is on the “doing” end. But when the team member sees her place and value in the vision of what is being created, they are happier, more motivated, and do the kind of work that improves performance. Start by envisioning—with the team—about what you are trying to create, then have each team member envision her role and the tasks she will complete to make it happen. Have her write down the value (monetary, time, emotional) to completing that task.
19. Teach Your Team How to Make Rejection Work
Jerry Haffey Jr., President of Business Development, Ambrosia Treatment Center
Any salesperson who claims to have a 100 percent success rate is lying to you. Rejection can be discouraging and oftentimes would be something that one would rather not dwell on. However, using your failures to leverage more success means that there is a silver lining in every mistake. Teach your team that instead of getting down on themselves when they don’t get the business, they should dig deeper into why it happened and arm themselves with a rebuttal to their potential client’s reasoning. The best way to learn and overcome objections is to gain first-hand experience. That way, on the next call, you’ve already dealt with that objection and you’re a pro at turning it around.
20. Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”
Anna Brockway, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Chairish
One of my favorite ways to motivate my team is through good old-fashioned thank you’s. It’s easy for other types of rewards to get lost in the mix, but a heartfelt acknowledgment that says “I appreciate you” and “I see you” is something your employees remember, and it re-energizes them to work harder and meet goals. Take three minutes today and write a quick email to someone for a job well done. You won’t regret it!
21. Know Your Team
Candice Simons, CEO and President, Brooklyn Outdoor
My advice to other executives is to know your team. If you know what motivates your team members, then you can use their individual strengths to accomplish goals together. A team where employees feel valued and are encouraged to reach their full potential is key to getting results. When your team is motivated, recognized and appreciated for its work, it shows through accomplishments. The Brooklyn Outdoor team has weekly meetings to ensure each employee has the opportunity to voice their ideas and opinions on a platform where each person is valued.
It is important to understand the different talents and interests that motivate each of your employees. An employee who feels valued and driven will cultivate that amongst their team. A company culture that excites your employees to strive for greatness will make your time spent working together as rewarding as the results.
22. Focus on High Performers
Yvonne Lines, Mindset Mentor and Blogger, SmartLife.tips
In all teams, there will be high performers whom we rely on to make things happen, the middle level contributors, and the low performers who coast along. Often, focus goes to the low performers in an attempt to increase their contributions. Instead, resources should go into the superstars. Our key people are often the ones who work independently, are easy going, and complete tasks successfully without a lot of attention. We tend to ignore them and just let them do their thing. However, it’s these people that we should be focusing on if we want the team to be more productive.
The high performers need to feel appreciated, valued, and respected, even though they don’t ask for accolades. If their less challenging tasks can be redistributed to other team members, the high performers won’t relax—they’ll fill the gap with whatever needs to get done next.
23. Walk the Walk
Jason Lavis, Marketing Director, Natural Resource Professionals Limited
There is a well-known negative phrase that does not apply to sales and marketing: “Those who can… Do, those who can’t… Teach.” This might be an apt phrase in some industries, but not in sales and marketing. The best managers and team leaders should be capable of being the number one salesperson. They should demonstrate this as often as they get a chance to. Demonstrations can include going on sales calls with junior staff, or even just in day-to-day disagreements where persuasion wins the team over. A leader who is (still) capable of walking the walk will inspire confidence, understand when something is going wrong, and solve problems for the team.
24. Measure and Recognize Improvements
Rune Sovndahl, Co-Founder and CEO, Fantastic Services
Measuring results is a great way to motivate people. Most often you calculate the overall numbers and larger wins. However, counting all improvements, even the small ones, and allowing these to be seen could be very powerful. People become enthusiastic when they observe the conversion rate and compare their personal performance with how everyone else is doing. It turns into a game; if there is one thing I would suggest to managers, it is to measure the results and help the employees improve.
25. Pay Attention to Conflict on Teams
Laura MacLeod, LMSW, HR Expert/ Consultant, From The Inside Out Project®
Leaders need to be aware of strong disagreements and dysfunctional behavior among workers. When you see it, address it immediately. Feeling lots of tension. Looks like Jane isn’t on board with this. Not sure we have consensus. Joe looks angry. These observations may be followed up with a question/inquiry: What’s the problem? Tell us, Jane—what’s your take on this? The point is to show that confrontation is healthy and welcome. Everybody’s got a voice and decisions and actions belong to the whole group. When this is the norm, teams will be more comfortable and fully able to produce and improve performance.
Over to You
The right motivation ideas will help sustain your team’s dedication and willingness to work. Try these team motivation ideas from the pros and watch how they improve productivity and benefit your bottom line.
Do you also have a go-to tip on how to motivate your team? Share it with us in the comments.