As a founder, you’re responsible for ensuring your team is motivated and engaged. But motivating your workforce can be a tall task, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
Doing it well requires a deep understanding of what drives each individual and how to create an environment that fosters growth and development.
However, there are many ways you can encourage your teams to be productive, high-performing employees.
Ways to motivate your team
How to motivate your team as a leader
1. Share a forward-looking vision
Your employees want to know the why of what they do and how their individual actions add to the company’s overall goals.
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, advises communicating these points clearly and frequently with your team.
“Share your vision, mission, values, goals, expectations, and feedback with your team regularly. Make sure they understand why they do what they do and how they fit into the bigger picture,” Clayton says.
With a forward-looking vision and clear goals, your team can know what they’re working toward, the next step, and what success looks like.
As everyone works together toward goals aligned with your vision, they’ll be motivated to perform each task. Plus, it improves employee engagement and motivation, and increases productivity.
2. Break goals into attainable chunks
Speaking of vision: You have big targets for your company. That’s a good thing. But they can also sometimes be overwhelming to workers who look at goals and ask themselves, “How are we going to make that happen?”
To motivate your team to achieve your vision, break them into smaller goals that build up to the overall target. It’s less overwhelming, and your team will constantly hit the smaller targets. And they’ll be more satisfied and motivated to continue to the next set of goals.
3. Improve internal communications
Effective communication builds a more engaged and motivated team. Poor employee communication makes them feel left behind and harder to motivate. Keep them up to date with what needs to be done.
If communication has been lacking, consider trying new communication channels. Different employees may take better to different types of communication. In-person meetings, video calls, Slack/instant messaging, and other forms of communication should all be evaluated.
Likewise, let your team know you’re open, available, approachable, and ready to listen to their ideas, opinions, and feedback. When they feel involved in your business, they’ll be motivated to do more, and better.
4. Choose the right leaders
Good leaders articulate your vision and ensure buy-in, which affects team motivation and engagement.
Hire and nurture managers fully invested in your vision, then empower them to build a winning team with the right talent for the needed roles. When your leadership believes in your company’s higher purpose and is aligned with its mission, it trickles down to all of your employees.
But don’t stop there. Have continuous management development and coaching for your leaders to increase employee motivation.
5. Encourage and promote teamwork
When team members with different skill sets work together cohesively, it’s easier to generate and develop ideas further and create more innovative results.
Once your team is aligned with your company’s vision, create opportunities for bonding and knowing one another.
Team-building activities — such as scavenger hunts, icebreaker games, or office trivia — are a great way to form the foundation of improved employee morale. You can also host virtual team building for remote employees with activities like virtual happy hour, virtual book club, quizzes, and more. Your team will feel less isolated and more engaged with their work.
When bringing on new hires, consider how they’ll add to your company culture and team. For example, Lululemon — a global athletic apparel company — looks out for candidates that are experts in the skills the company needs and are a great culture add for its team.
6. Give space and autonomy
Team motivation levels can drop when people feel they can’t control their energy and time.
Give them the space they need to thrive without micromanaging their every move. This demonstrates you trust them to do their jobs their way, gives them a sense of ownership, and inspires them to find better ways to accomplish each task.
You can do this by giving flextime, where they create their own workday schedules or start and finish times. You can also give unlimited paid time off (PTO), reduce meetings, and check in asynchronously whenever possible.
7. Recognize and reward hard work
Recognition and rewards show employees you appreciate their hard work, increasing their self-esteem, enthusiasm, and morale.
For example, the late cosmetics entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash gave an extra commission to consultants when they recruited new sellers into the company. She also gave elaborate gifts like a “Mary Kay Career Car,” fur coats, and signature diamond bee pins.
Whether monetary or non-monetary, rewards such as gifts, employee perks, and gestures like a day off, or added independence, can encourage your team to go the extra mile.
Virgin Atlantic does this by offering its team lifestyle-focused benefits, such as gym membership, bicycle-to-work scheme, and travel insurance.
8. Create a healthy and friendly workplace environment
Make your team look forward to coming to work by creating a welcoming office environment that boosts productivity, creativity, and contentment. When your team is happy and healthy, and the work environment creates a friendly culture, they’re more likely to feel motivated and engaged.
Some ways to create an enjoyable workplace include adding rest and play areas for your team to recharge. You can also offer healthy snacks and gym membership to encourage healthy attitudes and habits while maintaining your team’s energy levels.
For example, Google is known for its sleep pods and gourmet food designed to help its staff unwind and enjoy good meals at the workplace. The company also tested Team Pods, which can be reconfigured to support collaboration and focused work.
10. Provide growth and development opportunities
Your team wants to know they’re going somewhere. Find out what they want and implement learning and development programs to help them get there.
As your team learns new, transferable skills, track their milestones and give them more responsibilities. That way, you’ll motivate them to reach the next level and anticipate a productive journey ahead in the company. Wherever possible, try and tailor these development opportunities to the unique career goals of each of your employees.
11. Support your team’s well-being
Well-being is often overlooked when implementing motivation strategies and incentive schemes. If your team is overwhelmed or tired, they won’t produce great results.
Address your team’s physical, emotional, and mental health to keep them at the top of their game. Be more empathetic to their needs by talking to each team member and listening to them. Some may need some helpful resources, time off, or more flexibility.
Ensure their safety at the workplace. For example, during the covid-19 pandemic, companies ordered PPE and hand sanitizers for their employees while others created hybrid workplaces with remote or in-office working options.
12. Celebrate team wins
Celebrating successes is a great way to motivate your team. Coca-Cola does this well with its Celebrating You program, which is a recognition and rewards initiative designed to motivate employees and create a positive work environment.
It consists of several programs, including:
- Kudos program: Allows colleagues to send appreciation messages
- Ovation program: Employees can nominate others for making a significant impact
- Applause program: Celebrates service anniversaries
Reward points can be redeemed for various options like merchandise, travel, and charity donations.
Other companies can implement a similar approach by creating a platform that allows employees to acknowledge their peers’ hard work and achievements. This can foster engagement, improve job satisfaction, and maintain a positive work culture. Encouraging nominations for exceptional contributions also increases motivation among teams.
You can also hold a small team lunch, team appreciation day, company retreat, or office party with meaningful gifts to mark the occasion. It shows employees they’re recognized and appreciated, spurring them to reach goals and take on even more challenging initiatives.