Sunday, August 21, 2011

How To Motivate Your Team?

By: Yasmen Refaat

Motivation, motivation, and motivation!! Personally speaking, it's the biggest and heaviest load on leaders. Motivating people is not an easy job, and when a team works without any kind of motivations it becomes like machines!! Rusty machines !!!

I've been working in a charity organization and many volunteering communities since 2006. That let me live great experiences with too many leaders. Some of them ware amazing, others ware just carrying the title, but having nothing to do with its responsibilities!!! Also, I was on charge of a great team (my graduation's project team), so I became more interesting in leadership in addition to my old admiration to management.

So, I found this great article titled with "10 things you can do to motivate your team", and I liked it a lot. It sums up the most important things leaders should do to motivate their teams.

To get things done these days, working in teams is almost imperative. But how can you, as a leader, motivate a team to accomplish your objectives? How can you avoid common mistakes that can kill performance and morale?

1- Believe in your team's objectives

Do you believe in what you want the team to accomplish? If not, rethink your position, because your team will sense your uncertainty. You may say the right words, but your body language and overall demeanor will give you away. On the other hand, if you truly are dedicated and believe in your goals, your team will sense it and will react accordingly.

2- Model the behavior you want from the team
Don't be a hypocrite -- lead by example. You want your team to interact courteously and professionally with others, but do you do so yourself? If you ask them to put in extra hours, are you there along with them?

3- Keep a positive attitude
If you model a negative attitude, your team will pick it up. I know it sounds trite, but try to stay upbeat. Doing so doesn't mean being unrealistic. It does mean, however, that you try to look at the glass as being half full rather than half empty.
Instead of saying, for example, "This project will never succeed because of issues 1, 2, and 3," consider saying, "If we want this project to succeed, it's critical that we resolve issues 1, 2, and 3."

4- Be clear about your goals
It's hard for your team to accomplish its goals if those goals are unclear or unknown to them. More important, it's hard to get them even to agree with those goals if they don't know what they are. Make sure your team knows what you are expecting of them. If you can quantify your goals so that you can measure how well you did compared to what you expected, so much the better.

5- Get feedback from the team members
Unless you hear from your team members, you may have little or no idea of how effective or clear you are. Few of us enjoy hearing bad news or criticism, but if there's a problem in what we're doing, it's important that we hear it.
When discussing issues with the team, don't shoot the messenger. When listening to a team member, try to separate the message and issue from the person. Similarly, when someone is offering suggestions or discussing issues, try to separate your own self and ego from the discussion. If you do shoot the messenger, all you will have done is make your team even more reluctant to talk frankly with you in the future.

6- Set expectations
Make sure your team knows what to expect of you. If they do, there's less chance that they'll be unpleasantly surprised or disappointed. Suppose, from the previous point, you had a discussion with a team member, who made a few suggestions. Some of them are workable (so that you could act on them), but others aren't.
Before having this discussion, it would be good to let your team know that while you will listen to them, you may or may not adopt all of their suggestions. One would hope they'd realize this already, but it's best to be explicit. Furthermore, if you do adopt a suggestion, make sure everyone knows about it.

7- Avoid mixed messages
To encourage desirable behavior, there must be positive rewards for it. Conversely, to discourage undesirable behavior, there must be consequences that result from it. Believe it or not, some people mix up these two points.
Have you, as a parent, ever said to your child, "Any time you have problem, you can talk to Mommy or Daddy"? What happens when they do? You become irritated and yell at them, "Come back later! Can't you see I'm busy?!" If you send similar mixed messages to your staff, you will make it harder for them to act the way you want.

8- Know the difference between exhorting and belittling

It's fine and good for you to want greater and higher quality results from your team. However, be aware of the line between exhorting someone to do better and belittling them because they aren't right now. The latter might work, but the chances are greater that it might only create resentment and turn out to be counterproductive.
In other words, in keeping with the positive/negative point discussed earlier, focus on where you wanted them to be, rather than on the fact that they weren't there right now.
9- Correct in private
If personal issues of a team member are becoming a problem, address them with the person in private. Don't embarrass the person by bringing it up in public. Such issues include attendance and punctuality, dress, and general professionalism.

10- Praise in public
When someone does something right, you probably are happy and want that person to continue doing it. You also probably want to make that person look good in front of the others, and for the others to be motivated to improve their own performance. For those reasons, recognize good work in public, rather than in private.
However, praise alone still can motivate, as long as you're sincere and specific in what you're praising. Generalities are unhelpful. Rather, focus on the specific action, and how it benefited the group.

It can be rewarding to see a team come together and execute the way you want. It's even more rewarding to see people develop the way you want. However, try to be realistic. 

About Yasmen Refaat:

 Associate Software Engeneer, at Symbyo Technologies. Yasmen's experience includes analysing, designing, & developing larg scale comunity based websites.Contact with Yasmen at:

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