4 techniques to motivate your people

Those amongst us who are wise have started planning for 2018, and the various deliverables we need to achieve, I was reflecting on how best to drive motivation with my team.  As with any experienced manager, I have a few tools in the armoury to help me and the team achieve what I know we can.  Today, I thought I might share a few techniques on how to get your team motivated to deliver that critical Q4 goal, or take ownership for something significant for 2018.

Throw down the gauntlet – this is a technique I’ve used many, many times.  It has served me well when managing determined and strong-willed team members, and a fair few guys who struggled with authority.  It goes something along the lines of, “I know this one is a HUGE ask, and I know it’s not something you’ve done before… I don’t want you to step outside your comfort zone, but….”.  Whether it’s because the person loves a challenges, feels their ego is being challenges, there’s a certain person who, when challenged cannot resist but step up to deliver.

Be the co-pilot – sometimes, despite the considerable potential we see in someone, they have self doubt.  Ordinarily, having some self doubt is OK, it keeps us grounded and humble – but if that self doubt becomes too much, that person will be held back.  In my years as a manger, I realised that pushing people who are not feeling confident in themselves or their ability can result in stress and upset.  Instead this is the time to jump into the co-pilot’s seat and steer through the goals with them.  Notice I say co-pilot – you’re not owning or driving anything, but you are there to help them feel comfortable and build their confidence.  Celebrating each step, pushing towards the next step, your support allows them to deliver.  And the bonus is that when the task is complete, you can pointy out that it was all thanks to them!

Act as a mirror – if you want to motivate me, the secret is to act like a mirror.  Some of us work best through consensus, collaboration and shared ideas.  This isn’t because we doubt our ability, but because we value the opinion of others, we acknowledge that the sum of shared ideas is more than likely better than any individual idea.  Motivating such people might typical involve “brainstorms”, workshops, informal exchanges.  It may not always take place in the confines of a typical office.  Know when to head out and grab a coffee to kick around some concepts, because the shared exchange will sharpen the ideas of people who like their boss to act as a mirror.

Set them free – As strange as it sounds, despite everything you do to empower your people, show them respect, sometimes people need to hear your permission to go ahead.  It sometimes feels like a source of frustration to a decent manager.  “Why don’t they just go ahead?” – but as human beings, we all impose our own boundaries.  By regularly giving your people permission to deliver, you’ll avoid the scenario of them holding back for fear of lack of authority.

Of course, you need to understand your people, their personalities and their motivations (and demons) to know who to motivate them.  “One size fits no-one”, as one member of my team reminded me.  So as you reflect on HOW you are going to motivate your team, make sure you spend just as much time reflecting on what you have learned in working with them so you choose the right tool from your armoury.

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