Team Motivation – How to motivate yourself and your team

When you think about team motivation, the starting point is to understand what motivates you as an individual. The work we do on ourselves helps us connect with others and be better placed to lead them well.

We all have basic needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs talks about the 5 basic clusters of needs: 1) Physiological (such as food and water), 2) Safety needs (well-being), 3) Love and belonging (human interaction) 4) Esteem (self-respect) and 5) Self-actualisation (fulfilment of potential). 

Maslow termed the first four of these needs as “foundational” needs since they are the basis for our existence. However, he termed the fifth need of “self-actualisation” as a “growth need” in that it only becomes a priority when the foundational needs are met. In summary, basic needs must be met before we can move to working on our own personal growth. 

Basic needs can also be addressed through leadership, take belonging for example, this need could be achieved through feeling part of a thriving team. 

Now let’s look at motivation. The dictionary definition states it is: “a reason(s) for acting or behaving in a certain way”.

Our motivators are unique to each person. Understanding an individual’s motivation in a leadership role is critical to individual and team success. 

I’d like you to reflect on the last time you felt truly motivated. Ask yourself: 

  • What was happening?
  • What caused it?
  • Who was I with?

I remember a recent moment of high motivation for me, I was preparing for a coaching programme for a group of senior leaders. In preparation for the session I found I had taken many hours of my own time to review my approach. I was only being paid to facilitate the coaching programme, but found myself editing and adapting from the last time I delivered this session to ensure it was right for the client. I identified that money was not the motivator, I recognised that the motivators in this instance were about:

  1. Challenge and personal growth – I love pushing my boundaries and doing things differently each time I facilitate a session, rather than delivering the same content. This is a real joy. 
  2. Fun – I was working with another facilitator, and I enjoyed our discussions about how we would run the session.
  3. Ownership and responsibility – I had the role of lead facilitator on the programme. I thrive in being given leadership responsibility. 

In this one example you can see how my motivators were being met. I wonder what your motivators are?

Different types of motivation

When we look at an individual’s performance, particularly when performance is lower than required, there are two parts to consider:

  • Can they do the role? Do they have the skills and training required?
  • Will they do the role? Are they motivated to carry out the role?

Using even just these two questions above can help you manage performance. In addition, consider motivation in two areas:

Intrinsic Motivation

This is where motivation comes from within. It is the act of doing something without any obvious external rewards. Individuals do the work because they enjoy it, and it is interesting to them.

The leader can provide rewards based on intrinsic motivation. Examples include providing meaningful work that leads to job satisfaction, giving time off or extra responsibility. Other examples of intrinsic rewards are praise, recognition, trust, and freedom. 

Extrinsic Motivation

This is where motivation comes from something external – examples include money, job security and a bonus. The challenge with extrinsic motivation is that the feeling they provide is short lasting, plus the budget for such rewards can soon run out.

It is therefore crucial to focus on both types of motivators and rewards and focus heavily on understanding how to tap into intrinsic motivation, as this is long lasting. 

Think of motivation as a partnership between you and each team member. I always liken motivation to a clown – as the leader you do not need to be the clown with the jazz hands making each individual motivated and smiley! The best motivation comes from each person sourcing it within themselves, your role then becomes about partnership, walking alongside each person and supporting them to find opportunities that motivate them every day. 

Next Steps

As many business landscapes continue to evolve as we all embrace a hybrid way of working, here are some thoughts on how you could start to review the motivation of your team:

  1. Find out what motivates each team member – simply ask your team what motivates them so that you can both seek ways for them to be motivated frequently.  
  2. Create opportunities for motivational needs to be met. For example, if someone enjoys praise in a group, make sure you seek out an opportunity to provide honest, positive feedback in front of the team when it is appropriate to do so. If someone enjoys a challenge, why not ask them to present to the leadership team in your place? 
  3. Make a list of ways to motivate each team member – my coaching clients use their coaching time to work this through.
  4. Keep an eye on work motivates you – remembering that if we do the work on ourselves, it is role modelling to others to do the work too and also increases your self-awareness and effectiveness. 

If you would like to work through your approach to motivating your team, coaching can provide that much needed space to reflect and start working on it. Please get in touch to arrange your no obligation discovery call.

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