I’m back. It’s been a busy month both personally and professionally. I’ve been halfway around the world and back, and it’s been eye-opening. But I’m here again to dispense some unsolicited advice.
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how people are motivated and how teams progress day after day, week after week. Of course, there’s some energy around working in a team environment in the first place. We feed off of others’ enthusiasm. There is also excitement around the actual nature of the work itself. But there are a few additional connectors that glue a team together and inspire employees to continue working, that in my experience have catapulted teams/products/companies forward.
1. Staying organized: some leaders want to stand on a soapbox and rally the troops behind one idea. But rhetoric has to be organized effectively in order to understand exactly what the plan is. This organization must be consistently refreshed and revamped, otherwise people won’t know what plan they are executing against.
2. Innovating: Giving a blank slate can yield incredible results. Motivating a team by giving them the autonomy to come up with a completely new and innovative solution can be the ultimate driving force. If the team believes that they are simply rehashing old ideas or building on top of existing processes, the excitement wanes quickly.
3. Delegating and expanding scope of team mates: The best individual motivator is to push people’s skills beyond what they thought their capacity was. If you are asked to keep producing work at the same level, you will never feel motivated to go above and beyond what is asked of you.
4. Sharing inspiring stories: motivate your team by sharing successes. They don’t have to be directly related to whatever the team is working on, but have concrete examples rooted in the same moral lesson of perseverance that sends the same message.
5. Generating original thoughts and content: as a close confidant always says, “leaders innovate, impostors copy.” If you need to motivate your team, don’t repurpose someone else’s stories or reuse content someone else provided for you. Bring it from the heart: share your own story or first-hand anecdote. Come up with your own strategies rather than directly copying someone else’s. “Steal with pride” is ok, but make it your own.
When teams don’t do these things, they grow stale. People grow stagnant and disillusioned. Progress is not achieved. And employees lose sight of the greater vision, which makes it even more difficult to move quickly and make change. As a leader or as an individual contributor, it’s important to consider whether or not you are doing these things or providing the framework for them to happen in order to continue to motivate yourself and those around you. Occasionally, these actions shock the system that enables progress and inspires members of the org.