Team motivation is one of the unsung heroes of the workplace. Not just the flashy, cheesy away days or overcomplicated team building activities (although they do have their place); more meaningful yet subtle activities can have a much greater impact. Team motivation leads to a happier team, and we all know that a happy team is a productive team. But in order to motivate effectively, you need to understand how your people tick and what they consider to be rewarding and motivational.
Getting motivation right can be a challenge, because different individuals are motivated by different things. It helps to look at the team, as well as the unique characters within it. A good place to start is to look at what can be demotivating to the team. This can be poor work practices such as haphazard time tracking and invoicing or a disconnected remote working policy. It could be behavioral, for example, poor management or a toxic team environment, or it could be about lack of reward; nothing demotivates a team more quickly than the perception that their efforts are not recognized or appreciated with thanks and appropriate rewards.
According to the IT Salary Guide on Motion Recruitment, 76% of IT and Technology employers struggle to find the right skills for their open positions. One of the reasons why it’s crucial to reduce employee turnover and maintain high team motivation.
Good team motivation can – and should – look different for each team, because each team is unique. However, there are some factors that should be considered regardless of the size and skillset of the team.
Make it genuine and inclusive
Donuts in the office every Friday are great, unless your team happens to have people with specific dietary needs that aren’t catered for, they are fasting, or Friday is a home working day for some. If the idea is to motivate the collective team, then it is important that you don’t exclude or isolate individuals – even the most innocent faux pas can be forgiven the first time but can quickly be seen as a lack of understanding and sensitivity, which can make other activities seem disingenuous.
Bring everyone along
It is easy for employees to forget that their job is part of a greater collective effort. Every cog, no matter how small it is, has a vital role to play. Ensure that everyone knows what the goals are, and that their input is valuable. Be clear on next steps, company goals and ambitions, and what each team’s role is in achieving those goals; by making your teams an integral part of the journey, they will understand what is expected of them and be more engaged, invested, and motivated to achieve collective success.
Set clear targets
It is always important to know what the bigger picture is, but setting clear, smaller targets along the way can provide a sense of achievement and help to keep teams engaged and motivated. Recognize every time an interim target is reached to help maintain momentum and provide teams with a sense of satisfaction and achievement, which will be motivating in themselves.
A productive workspace
Whether your teams work in the office, remotely, or they are hybrid, a warm, welcoming and functional workspace will help to improve motivation and productivity. From standing desks to decent coffee, by listening to your employees’ pain points and doing your best to accommodate them, you are letting them know that they are valued and that their comfort and wellbeing means a lot to you.
Duvet days, bonuses, office treats, or even just saying “thank you”. Appropriate, consistent, genuine and inclusive ways of recognizing great work will help to boost morale and improve teamwork and motivation.
Know your employees
In order to understand the team, you need to know the individuals that make it what it is. This can be relatively easy to achieve as part of your onboarding. A simple questionnaire that asks if an employee celebrates their birthday, what things they enjoy (flowers/chocolates/vouchers/time off), what their dietary needs are, and any hobbies can equip a line manager with enough information to ensure that all needs are catered for in collective rewards, and that individual rewards are welcomed and appropriate.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to motivate your staff. A verbal expression of appreciation can go a huge way, and is free. Assigning a mentor, an extra hour for lunch, or the option to start an hour later on a Monday or leave an hour earlier on a Friday will have minimal impact on the bottom line but will reap considerable rewards in terms of staff retention, motivation and productivity.