In last week’s post, “How to Motivate Others—Challenges and Opportunities,” we discussed multiple areas where people in leadership positions can betray the confidence of their employees and teams, leading to drops in engagement and performance. Pitfalls for managers can include adopting one-size-fits-all motivational tactics, showing a lack of faith in employees, which leads to micro-management, believing in the concept of universal self-motivation, ongoing failure to provide timely coaching and feedback, and displaying open negativity.
While all of these letdowns can lead to under-performing individuals and team, there are multiple roads that pave the way to success. Let’s take a look at some of the good ways that managers achieve sustained excellence when motivating others.
Setting the Example
Great managers show leadership by looking inward first. To influence and lead others, you must first set the example. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” Providing a successful roadmap for others to follow, whether it’s through your work habits, attitude, or the level of engagement you display, can go a long way toward setting up your management tenure for success.
Leaders in business are role models. When people follow you, they aren’t just following your orders; rather, they are imitating the behaviors that have made you successful. Being a good role model is a huge responsibility that falls upon managers, and while we all have our weak moments, every manager should strive to minimize mistakes and liabilities and when they do happen, acknowledge them, learn from them, and continue to move forward.
If setting the example takes introspection, managers must also make sure to show commitment outwardly to the people on their teams. The keys to signaling commitment to employees are being visible, involved, and “in the present.”
Too many managers hide when the workload becomes stressful or times are tough. Just being visible to your employees and keeping a positive attitude goes a long way to securing their engagement. In addition to being visible, you must get involved—not too much, as with the micro-managers—but involved enough to where you can help your people make intelligent, informed decisions that will help them clear obstacles more quickly. Finally, be in the present—all too often, managers get too entrenched in their own work and forget that their team must live through today’s successes and challenges.
Challenge Brings Out the Best
As humans we define our personal achievement not by how we routinely accomplish rudimentary tasks, but by how we overcome obstacles and meet challenges to accomplish tasks that we may not have thought possible. Whether it’s running a faster mile or learning to bake a complex confection, we measure ourselves by overcoming the odds and redefining our own personal excellence.
So it is, too, with our work performance. People need challenging work to propel them to new heights. When you stay attentive to what people need, based on their personal interests and development goals, and then attune those goals to your business objectives, you’ll see that every time you hand out a new challenge, you’ll be handed back an even higher level of achievement.
Know Your People—Really Know Them
Do we really look at others for who they are, or do we just treat them as a group of numbers filling positions in the organization? Because if we really want to motivate people, we need to know as much about them as we can. We need to know their strengths, weaknesses and capacity for improvement—from a performance and development standpoint, there are no greater barometers for success.
While assessing strengths and weaknesses isn’t profound for many organizations, most companies fail to take that deeper dive that serves as the motivational engagement platform for these attributes, the employee’s values, interests, likes, dislikes and hot-buttons. Sound talent management is about aligning the manager’s leadership and personal style, the goals of the business and team, and the interests of the individual. And it’s also about avoiding those issues that could be detrimental to the individual employee’s morale, causing a drop in performance and even disengagement.
Make Work Fun and Interesting
Managers must be creative to meet the engagement needs of their employees. All people respond with higher levels of motivation when confronted with a manager committed to making their work more rewarding and to enriching their roles within the organization.
People need to know that they are always working toward a higher purpose, and that doesn’t necessarily always mean extra compensation. People feel a very high sense of reward and fulfillment when they can sense their own importance to an organization constantly growing. And on the lighter side, it’s easy to see why people are better motivated when they associate work with fun, whether it’s the gamification of certain projects or goals, or just having a culture where people enjoy laughing with each other.
Motivating others is not something you can do successfully unless you commit to it as an ongoing process. Your people will always have a wide range of needs, and those needs often cannot wait until the next scheduled interval for performance reviews or coaching sessions.
At TM Solutions, we spend a lot of time with our clients, helping them as they instill and fuel the processes and tools needed to build a culture where managers tailor motivational needs to the individuals that make up their teams. To get an even deeper flavor for our thoughts on the subject of motivation, check out our blog series on the Eight Keys for Engaging Your Team through Effective Leadership, as well as our series on the Eight Leadership Essentials for Forging Trust through Action.
We’d also like to invite you to be our guest, at no cost, for our upcoming webinar, Engaging Your Team through Effective Leadership, coming up on March 19 at 11 am Eastern time. Packed with real-world application and multiple learning opportunities, our leadership webinars give you the tools to develop a foundation for ongoing trust-building and motivation. Please follow this link for registration details.