If it’s your job to lead a team of employees or volunteers, it can be a bit unnerving to know that the buck stops on your desk, but the group members are the ones who make you successful – or not. One of the leader’s most important functions is to inspire their team so everyone succeeds. Here are five principles to keep people motivated to do their best.
Create consensus & unity in purpose – People enjoy being part of something good, strong, and purposeful. Be sure your team meets together early on as you begin any project, so everyone hears the vision at the same time and has the opportunity to discuss ideas and ask questions. This ensures no team member is going into their assignment without adequate knowledge of what goal needs to be met or with a “lone ranger” attitude.
Celebrate diversity & unique contribution – The strength of a team lies in the combination of multiple sets of skills, talent, and experience working together. All bases get covered when a variety of people apply their unique abilities to a common goal – some thoughtful problem solvers, some creative visionaries, some collaborators, some researchers. Great things happen when companies get “outside the box” without overstepping their bounds. A healthy, diverse team can keep the balance, and every individual deserves appreciation.
Communicate clearly – Nothing frustrates or confuses a team like mixed messages, unclear direction, or incomplete instruction. Make it a priority to communicate as honestly, directly, and clearly as possible. Make sure to articulate deadlines, specifications, goals, and priorities. If a team member is not performing as needed, give specific feedback that states what needs to change, and what will happen if it doesn’t. Tact and clarity are both essential.
Check in often for support & accountability – This is one of the inherent benefits of a team that’s healthy – multiple members available to one another if questions or ideas need to be bounced off other people. As a team leader, encourage your members to consult not only with you, but with each other. If you give a team or an individual as assignment and then just cut them loose, you are less likely to get the results you want, and teamwork suffers. Set a regular schedule for the team to meet all together, but also make personal contact with individuals in between to be sure no one has gone off track or is getting behind.
Congratulate a job well done – Multiple studies have shown that the majority of workers are not primarily motivated by money, but rather by satisfaction in the work they do. Everyone thrives when their contribution is acknowledged, and teams grow stronger as members celebrate completed projects, extra effort, successful ideas, and effective partnership together. Thank people who played a small part as well as the star employees. It takes a lot of small parts for great things to happen.
If you develop your skills as a cheerleader for your team, you’ll help bring everyone up to a greater level of success and job satisfaction – and you all stay inspired together.
Live, Work and Relate Well!