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The Most Effective Yet Subtle Ways Managers Can Motivate Their Teams in Q1

4 Mins read

Let’s face it, the first quarter can be tough to get through. Not only are we getting over the post-holiday slump, but we are also experiencing cold days and long nights! We are all looking for a little inspiration for the months ahead. Motivating teams is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire year. Rekindling motivation early helps build momentum, establishes positive habits, and creates a foundation for sustained productivity and achievement throughout the rest of the year. Here are several ideas to kickstart and reinvigorate your team’s motivation:

Clear Communication

It seems obvious, but the best way to motivate your team is to communicate with them regularly. Communicate expectations, goals, fears, work culture, and more. Most employees have been trained to keep their concerns private to avoid potential backlash from their managers, but this only ends up creating larger problems in the long term. Make it a point to establish consistent meetings to check in with team members and learn how they are doing. This allows you to identify trust issues and develop strategies for improvement. Encourage your team members to share their thoughts and ask them team-building questions to determine their needs and priorities, such as how they prefer to communicate with their colleagues. Keep the team informed about the larger picture and how their work contributes to the overall success of the project or organization to keep them on track.

Regular Check-Ins

Weekly check-ins are motivating for teams. They are crucial for open communication, allowing managers and employees to connect. Establishing a connection through regular interactions helps establish rapport, build a positive working relationship, and discuss individual concerns and goals.

Managers can also use weekly meetings as a way to recognize and appreciate the efforts of the employees as well as provide constructive feedback for continuous improvement and learning. You’ll have the opportunity to clarify any expectations and goals to ensure everyone is on the same page. This way, team members better understand their roles and how their responsibilities are aligned with achieving the bigger picture.

Autonomy and Trust

Fostering trust in your workplace means showing your team you are dedicated to helping them succeed. You can do this by informing them with clear communication and transparency, prioritizing their work, setting realistic goals, and giving them more autonomy.

We have all heard, “Trust is earned, not given.” However, withholding trust by default and only granting it to your employees based on a set of predetermined standards without communicating these standards hinders the development of trust. The last thing you want is to create a dynamic where your employees feel they must “win” your trust. Worse, refusing to be transparent about your scoring system means you can’t expect them to meet your demands. Trust is not truly something your team members can earn – you must give them!

Give your team autonomy over their work. Employees in all industries often cite micromanaging as one of their biggest concerns. Micromanaging is often associated with managers not trusting their employees to perform tasks without constant supervision and feedback. By contrast, giving your team members autonomy demonstrates that you trust them, reinforces their trust in themselves, and improves confidence across the entire team.

Professional Development

Encouraging and supporting ongoing learning and skill development greatly benefits employees and the organization. Professional development opportunities allow employees to acquire new skills, enhance existing ones, and show you care about their development and growth. Offering professional and personal growth demonstrates that the organization values its employees. In turn, these engaged employees are more likely to be committed to their work and the company, but increase trust in the workplace.

Other positives to encouraging and offering professional development opportunities include increased productivity, greater job satisfaction, adaptability to change, increased innovation and creativity, employee retention, and enhanced job satisfaction.

Set Challenging Goals

SMART goals are a framework for setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound objectives. This acronym helps ensure that goals are clear, well-defined, and realistic, fostering effective planning and successful implementation.

By adhering to the SMART criteria, individuals and organizations can enhance goal-setting, improve accountability, and increase the likelihood of successful goal attainment. Encourage your team to discuss SMART goals and status during check-ins and performance reviews. As a manager, you can set challenging but achievable goals to keep teams engaged.

Recognition and Appreciation for Teams

Recognize employees publicly through meetings, emails, or bulletin boards, and consider implementing a structured reward system tied to performance. Personalize recognition to cater to individual preferences, ensuring employees feel valued and appreciated. Always make sure to appreciate the efforts of team members. Feeling valued and acknowledged boosts morale and encourages continued effort.

Flexible Rewards and Recognition, Opportunities for Advancement

Implementing rewards, recognition, and opportunities for advancement is crucial for fostering a positive and motivating workplace culture. First, establish a comprehensive recognition program that acknowledges individual and team accomplishments.

Secondly, create clear pathways for career advancement within the organization. Develop a transparent promotion process, providing employees with a roadmap for career growth. Offer mentorship programs to support employees in their professional development and communicate the available opportunities for learning and advancement. You can also encourage regular performance reviews to identify high-performing individuals and provide constructive feedback on areas for improvement. By integrating rewards, recognition, and opportunities for advancement, organizations can create a workplace that motivates employees to excel, fostering loyalty and sustained productivity.

Lead by Example and Encourage Innovation

Be the change you want to see. Appreciating what you have and seeing the positive in situations rather than the negative is challenging but technically easy to change

and makes a dramatic difference in satisfaction, motivation, etc. The start of the year can sometimes feel challenging, but you have to believe that you can set the tone for a successful and fulfilling year ahead with the right mindset and motivation.

Remember, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter. We can overcome challenges and achieve our goals by fostering a supportive and motivating work environment.

Andres Lares is the managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute and co-author of Persuade: The 4-Step Process to Influence People and Decisions.

Teams stock image by Ground Picture/Shutterstock

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