How to engage hearts and minds

team holding hands, mental health

Here’s some ‘must have’ steps to build and motivate a high performing team

How is 2018 turning out for you and your team? With quite a few months under our belt now’s a good time to pause and reflect.  What have been the successes?  Have there been a few challenges?  How good have the team been at celebrating and reinforcing what’s gone well?  For those of you who manage staff what have the challenges been and how are you dealing with them?

The managers and directors I regularly talk to and work with share their people management issues and often top of their dilemmas is this question:

“How can I ensure my team performs consistently and pulls out all the stops when needed?”

In other words how do you get a collection of individuals to all travel in the same direction with you? How can you increase motivation and  ‘buy-in’ to the team’s goals and priorities, have those difficult conversations when needed, manage performance and reduce any conflicts?  How do you do this as well as manage your own day job?

In this article I’m going to unlock for you the 10 secrets to help you build a motivated and high performance team. Then at the end I’ll reveal the one thing you must do to make sure that you continue to benefit from positive changes

Here are the 10 secrets:

You cannot really motivate anyone

Staff need to be motivated themselves. Find out why your staff come to work. What are their drivers?  Not everyone wants more money or a promotion or a career.  Don’t assume that the things that float your boat work for others. Talk to your individual team members.  Ask them what motivates them and wherever possible be flexible and create these conditions for them. People are often motivated by variety, challenge, teamwork, praise, thanks, recognition, feeling important, generating ideas and being listened to. These are what we refer to as intrinsic motivators. They mostly have no costs attached and are about business culture or ‘the way we do things around here’.

Avoid the demotivators

Perhaps more important than thinking about motivation is to realise how easy it is to demotivate people. Look at the above list of intrinsic motivators. Absence of these has adverse effects and can seriously damage performance levels. So think about your management style and see how frequently you may be demotivating others without even realising it

Equity Counts

One of the most powerful motivational theories is that of Equity. In other words we are all driven by the WIIFM syndrome. What’s in it for me?  If you do not ensure that team members are treated equally you will very rapidly end up with petty jealousies, backstabbing and playground behaviour within your team.  I spend a lot of time in businesses sorting out these kinds of problems. They can boil up from under the surface and spill over affecting everyone including customers/clients who can detect the undercurrents.

 Blend and Balance

Ensure that you have a balance and diversity in your team. You need a blend of personalities, attributes, skills and demographics. Avoid the tendency to appoint people like you!

Dynamics can help or hinder

Remember that when you change the dynamics of the team you may well affect the performance. For example, if a new member of staff joins this can actually unsettle the team for a while and a period of readjustment takes place.  If you have a different person chair your team meetings, again you will get a different result as the team members adjust to the style of the chair.  This can have a positive or negative effect on performance at both team and individual level.

Staff Engagement is vital

Gallup back in 2010 identified that staff with positive attitudes towards their employer were able to share that positivity with customers. It also showed that these employees were the ones with the ‘magic sauce’.  By this I mean they were willing and able to go that extra mile to give great service and resolve let downs and complaints.  That extra mile is often referred to in HR circles as ‘discretionary extra effort’.

So, you need to ensure you engage staff.  This includes getting them to buy into the business goals and really understand what they do, why they do it and the implications for when they don’t.   Set up ‘Lunch with’ sessions every so often to get teams to know each other better.  Involve everyone including the most senior members.  It’s a great chance to break down barriers.  Involve every team member in meetings.  Jointly set inspirational and relevant goals and create a focus on and reward for a can do attitude.

Identify your Champions

Every business has its own internal champions.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  They embrace new ideas, look for the positives, generally see change as a good thing and  are passionate about their own learning.  Seek out these team members.  They are great at rallying people behind them and become instrumental in helping introduce and embed new ways of working, attitudinal and behavioural changes.

Allocation and Delegation – they are not the same thing

Make sure you understand the difference between allocation and delegation.  Ensure delegation is an empowering development tool, not an abused time management technique.  Maximise resources, minimise slack time and be as fair as you can to ensure you are boosting everyone’s skills fairly across the team, taking into account the variables at any one time.

One to ones make all the difference

Set aside time each month for a one to one with each member of staff.  Stagger these throughout the four weeks and it should not affect work flow or schedules too much.  Employees have a right to feedback and most of us relish feedback on performance and the opportunity to learn and improve.

Words matter

Think about the words you use.  Even a simple “Can you pop in at 4 to see me” can trigger the threat response in one of your staff who will immediately jump to all the wrong conclusions.  If you put some context around it, for example “Can you pop in at 4 to see me so we can discuss items for next week’s agenda” it makes everything so much clearer and alleviates fear.  You are much more likely to build rapport and a successful dialogue.

And finally…

I promised to reveal the one thing you absolutely must do to ensure continued benefits from positive changes:

Changing personal or work habits requires sustained effort.  Recent research shows we need to embed a new behaviour at least 21 times before we go on autopilot.  So don’t try to tackle all the above at once.   Pick one or two priorities where improvement can really make a difference.  Imagine what the changed scenario will look like when you have achieved the goal.  That will keep it all real and keep you focussed on progress.  Then go on to embed some of the other recommendations I’ve shared.

Love Ali xx

Alison Miles-Jenkins

Founder of Leading Light Enterprises

Author of ‘New Manager Secrets – How to accelerate your success as a manager immediately


Related Posts