It’s not that difficult, and you don’t have to do it alone!

One major challenge of all team leaders is to keep their teams motivated. A motivated team would not only give their best but also stay together longer.

I was privileged to be with highly-motivated teams and have led several ones too. But not all teams started that way.

One team that I led was particularly challenging because they were already demoralised when I took over as the team leader!

To make matters worse, the team was responsible for some of the critical support functions of the organisation! They were performing what was required of them but were not enjoying their work; some were even negative or critical of the organisation. Anyone could sense the “gloom” atmosphere the moment they stepped into the office.

How would I motivate such a team?


Five simple ways to motivate your team

It wasn’t easy; it was an uphill task. I tried many things and sought help whenever I could. In the process, I learned many valuable lessons on leading and motivating.

We (it wasn’t just my own efforts) eventually transformed the team into a highly-motivated, high-impact team! If we could do it, you can too!

Here are five simple ways you could motivate your team.


1. Be clear about team direction and expectations

I am convinced that having a clear team direction is critical to the success of any team.

But having the direction is not good enough, I would need to communicate the direction in a way that touches the hearts and minds of team members. Something that they could resonate with and say, “Yes, I believe in this!”

With the team mentioned earlier, I crafted an emotional narrative to help them see their role in the context of the whole organisational mission. We also taught team members to use variations of that narrative in the way they communicate outside of the team.

Next, I need to have clear expectations for the team. These might include:

  • Performance expectations
  • Priorities
  • How they work with one another, or between departments
  • Behavioural norms
  • Accountability
  • What they can expect from you, the team leader
  • What is the team or organisation committed to doing for them
  • etc.

Knowing where they are going, and what they will get in return, would help motivate the team.


2. Involve them in decision making

Not all decisions need to be made by the team leader; some are, and should. For the rest, getting team members involved in making those decisions is an effective way to build ownership towards the team.

Some ways to involve the team in decision making include:

  • Decide with everyone involved, through vote or consensus.
  • Have a ‘core group’ to make some critical decisions in consultation with the team leader.
  • The ‘core group’ make recommendations that the entire team could vote on.
  • The ‘core group’ make recommendations which the team leader could use to make the final decisions.
  • Have individuals or small groups responsible for certain decisions.
  • Some combinations of the above.


We need to remember, though, that however ways decisions are made, the team leader is still ultimately responsible for the team.

When team members are involved in decision making, they become invested in the team. This helps motivate them to see the team succeed.

“When team members are involved in decision making, they become invested in the team. This helps motivate them to see the team succeed.”


3. Show them you value them

Intrinsically, we want to know that what we do matters to someone. More than that, I want to know that I matter to someone!

Team members who know they are valued are more motivated to do their best. Being valued also help them feel belong.

Check my upcoming post “5 simple ways to show your team you value them” for some ideas on how you may show you value your team. I assume, of course, that you do value your team members.


4. Provide opportunities for growth

Team members who grow become more valuable to themselves, the team, and to the organisation.

While we want our team members to grow professionally (skills, knowledge, competencies, etc.), it is also vital to invest in their personal growth! People who are learning and growing in their personal lives (mind, body, soul, character, etc.) are more likely to be motivated towards their team.

Some ways to provide growth opportunities include:

  • Provide funding for training courses.
  • Give them time-off for personal development.
  • Engage a coach for selected team members.
  • Give them tasks that challenge them beyond their comfort zone.
  • Create an environment that encourages and rewards growth.


5. Enlist help from like-minded influencers within the team

You don’t have to do it alone!

Within any team, there is always someone (or a few) who are more motivated than the others; some of them would also be influencers in the team. Enlist them as your allies!

With the team that I mentioned earlier, I had two who were more motivated. They became my trusted ‘core leaders’ on the team, and helped me tremendously as I worked towards transforming the team!

Having allies motivated me too! Knowing that I was not in it alone gave me hope. As I involved them in making decisions and leading the team, I also provided them with opportunities for growth and showed that I value them.


What about you?

Which of the above resonate with you?

What else have you tried that worked for your team?


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