16 Mar 2020


By Levi King

Great leaders know how to motivate their teams.

Simply put, great leaders are great motivators. Increasing your skills as a motivator will increase the happiness of your employees, the satisfaction of your customers, and your company’s chances of success.

I should know; I’ve hired hundreds of people over the course of my career. In doing so, I’ve discovered that while human beings themselves are amazingly diverse and complicated, they’re motivated by the same basic, tried-and-true principles. Here are four ways you can use those principles to help motivate your team:

1. Hire folks who share your vision.

Recruit people who are inspired by what your company does and who your company serves. I’ve learned the hard way that you can hire well-intentioned people who are impossible to motivate because their passions and interests don’t align with yours.

Once they’re on the payroll, your relationship becomes an interminable struggle wherein you do your best to motivate them and they do their best to resist. They’re simply unmotivated.

This isn’t to argue that they’re bad employees per se–they may arrive on time and work an honest eight hours–but their hearts won’t be in it. It’s pretty hard to ignite a flame of passion in someone who only shows up for a paycheck.

Don’t limit your vetting process to background checks and resumes and references. Try to discover what makes a potential employee tick. Find out why they want to devote 40 hours a week to your business. The closer they come to sharing your vision, the easier it will be to motivate them to give their all.

2. Design an appealing office environment.

An interesting article from 2015 in the Harvard Business Review describes an experiment involving 100 undergraduates who are asked to complete a complicated assignment. Unbeknownst to them, the assignment is actually impossible; they’re supposed to give up on it. The point of the experiment is to see who gives up first.

After receiving their instructions, the students are divided into two groups. One group is led to a cluttered, disorganized office; the other to a neat and tidy office. They’re then told to begin the assignment.

Both groups eventually quit in frustration, as intended. But the students in the neat and tidy office stick with the assignment 1.5 times longer than their peers in the pigsty.

The conclusion? The human brain is hardwired to prefer order over disorder. Ugly environments weaken our powers of concentration, and can even induce stress by giving us a sense of being out of control.

You don’t have to be able to eat off the office floors, but your job as motivator-in-chief will be much easier if your employees appreciate their surroundings. Small touches like flowering plants and tasteful art can have a big impact. Your people should be free to let their desks reflect their personalities, but your shared working space should convey serenity instead of chaos.

3. Be a good example.

Motivational leaders don’t ask their followers to do things that they themselves are unwilling to do. Moods–whether they’re good or bad–are infectious. A leader’s moods are especially infectious, so do your best to spread positivity and cheer.

If you want your employees to arrive early, arrive early yourself. If you want them to treat each other with respect, treat them with respect first. Be the kind of leader they can identify with and love. It’ll be easy for them to believe you’ve walked in their shoes if they see evidence of it every day.

4. Create opportunities for advancement.

Lofty, ambitious goals are intrinsically motivational, while dead-end jobs produce dead-end spirits. Your employees should know that the company ladder is climbable, and would-be climbers should be given tools and training for a successful ascent. Establish a reputation as a leader whose followers advance to bigger and better things, and you’ll never have a problem with recruitment again.

Keep in mind that human ambitions aren’t static. Suppose Roger comes to you saying, “You know what, I don’t want a management role. I just want to keep my head down and put in eight solid hours and then go home to my family and leave work concerns at the office door.”

Perhaps Roger was stressed out when you hired him, so that the idea of clear-cut responsibilities within a fixed time frame was attractive. Once those stresses ease up–his kids are finally in school, he’s caught up on his bills–he may start itching for a challenge.

You could lose a valuable employee if you’re not aware of this transformation. Staying on top of your colleagues’ innermost desires is an awesome motivational tool. Shepard their careers as if they were your own, and you’ll reach great heights together.

Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Inc Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Inc Magazine

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