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5 Bulletproof Ways Leaders Can Motivate Their Teams

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We all dream of a perfect, self-motivated team that is constantly putting their best foot forward and embracing each challenge they are given. In reality, as much as you’d like to encourage and motivate even more active contribution from your team members, it is often easier said than done.

Using external motivators, such as promotions or raises, is rarely a permanent solution for motivating your employees to do the very best for the company. Motivation simply cannot be forced on anyone but has to come from within, which is why it’s extremely important to understand the unique sources of employee motivation. There are, however, some solid ways for leaders to self-motivate and encourage active participation in a team.

Here are five bulletproof ways to help your employees find motivation and stay motivated:

1. Communicate purpose

Communicating purpose is the first step towards enhancing motivation and engagement within a team. Like Simon Sinek advises in his best-selling book, if you want your team to act with purpose, you should start with why. If your team isn’t aware of why they are doing what they’re supposed to do, they’re less likely to find their work meaningful and less likely to care.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you’re forced to have a motivational speech. In my opinion, motivational rants are like throwing boiled spaghetti on the wall – it’s not going to stick for long. Instead, to create a fulfilling and motivating work-environment, engage and encourage your team members to participate in clarifying your vision. Be open about where you’re heading and what’s your driving force.

Leaders who aim for providing direction and clarity, are the ones who are really able to take their businesses to the next level as well as to help their team members to pursue both their professional and personal hopes and dreams.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

2. Set clear goals

One of the most common de-motivating factors in a workplace is lack of focus. If you find your team constantly busy, but don’t quite know with what, it might be a sign of confusion due to unclear goals. Also, if your team is constantly underperforming, you might want to revisit your goals.

Without specific and transparent goals, your team may have a difficult time to know what to prioritize. This easily results in uncertainty, decreased motivation and a constant debate of whether they’re working enough or not.

Clear goals can help your team avoid unnecessary stress and make smarter decisions. To retrieve motivation, start by revisiting your goals to make sure they are ambitious enough to be meaningful. However, don’t make the mistake of stretching your workers too much outside of their comfort zone but aim for finding a good balance between these two.

A solid starting point is to define your “common grand goal” towards which you work as a team. When you have defined that, it’s much easier to start planning your journey there by setting smaller individual goals.

3. Encourage ownership

Sometimes, employees may feel they don’t have enough power to make decisions. This might be a sign of too strict processes or the fact that you’re micromanaging your employees.

To encourage your team to take ownership, set clear expectations and standards but give them enough freedom to come up with their own ideas. Enhance trust by asking for feedback to show that you really value their opinion.

Also, make sure your team members are aware of how their contribution links to the big picture. When your team feels that what they’re doing is important and they’re contributing to something with real value, they’re more likely to take ownership and be proud of their work.

4. Hold your team accountable

Accountability is one of the most overlooked aspects by leaders who want to create an effective and motivated team environment. In general, people are motivated by positive feedback and exceeding expectations. According to a study, nearly 78% of employees are highly engaged when they experience strong recognition, which is why positive feedback is encouraged.

However, there should also be consequences when things don’t go as planned. Accountability becomes sustainable with constant reinforcement, which is why continuity is the key. Holding your team accountable shows that you care and helps your team to maintain quality.

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.” – Bob Proctor

5. Support self-development and provide opportunities for growth

One of the best ways to motivate your team is to encourage each individual to become better by finding ways to support their professional growth and encouraging personal leadership. In practice, this can mean for example training sessions, book clubs, mentoring or other tactics that support personal leadership.

Take a few self-development tactics as a part of your goal-setting process by aligning individual KPIs with your company goals. To get the best possible outcome, this should be done systematically.  

Another way to provide opportunities for growth while linking this with work is to launch a Growth Model, where you first define different areas of improvement. Start by evaluating where your team stands at the moment in each of the areas and plan the following steps according to your findings.

Choose one focus area at a time as well as clear action points and a timeline to improve that specific area. Make it tangible by keeping track of the progress – this helps motivating your employees as they can instantly see their level of improvement. If you want to take motivating your team to the next level, find out what their personal and career-related goals are and try to think of ways you can help them to pursue these goals.

How do you keep your team motivated? Comment below!

Julia Myllylä is a content marketer at Viima, a fast-growing innovation management software company that allows companies to harness the immense innovation potential their employees and customers possess. She contributes to The Viima Blog, which is the premiere destination when it comes to content related to leadership, innovation and culture.

Motivation

How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals

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Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.

What is Motivation?

The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.

Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).

Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.

However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals. 

How to Get Motivated

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.

This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.

4 Ways to Make Starting Easier

1. Schedule it

One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it. 

When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.

An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”

2. Measure something

It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.

3. Extrinsic motivation

This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.

4. Make it public

Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

How to Stay Motivated Long Term

When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.

These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:

1. Stay in your goldilocks zone

The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.

For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging. 

The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.

2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals

Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within. 

For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.

3. Use “chunking”

Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.

Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.

For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.

4. Be flexible

We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.

5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion

Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.

This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.

Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.

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Motivation

What Is Dark Motivation and How Can I Use It to My Advantage?

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Motivation

The Killer Morning Routine to Boost Motivation

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Motivation

Why “No Pain, No Gain” Is More Powerful Than You Realize

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