6 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Team Members

“The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.” -Steven Covey

Much research has been completed in the past few decades on methods of motivating employees and building great teams. What have the researchers discovered? The single most important motivator turns out to be “clear expectations.” Guess what the greatest demotivator is. Surprise, surprise – it’s unclear expectations1, or employees not knowing what was expected of them.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Employees join organizations looking forward to making significant contributions. However, some people lose their enthusiasm and excitement due to environmental conditions. Managers fail to put the “right people in the right seats on the bus” as Jim Collins spoke of in his classic, Good to Great.

How to Motivate Your Team Members

Whether you manage an organization, a department, a department team or a project team, good leaders consider how to motivate their people through clear expectations. Try these proven methods:

  1. Cast the vision. The book of Proverbs says, “Without vision, the people perish.” Your team members want to know where they are going and why the journey is important. Cast a compelling vision filled with hope.
  2. Set clear goals. People are motivated by goals that they help define. You will see more ownership and drive to achieve the goals. Ask your team members to help you define goals.
  3. Clarify roles and responsibilities. How many times have you been asked to help with an initiative or project but no one has clearly explained your role and responsibilities? You want to make a difference, but you are lost in terms of how to achieve the objectives.Leaders should document and communicate roles and responsibilities. Make your expectations clear.
  4. Match skills with the tasks at hand. Would a football coach ask a 160 pound, 6 foot, 8-inch basketball player to play tackle? Probably not. People want to use their strengths to make personal contributions. Place people in positions that leverage their skills and experience.
  5. Challenge individuals with growth opportunities. Good leaders look for ways to grow their people. What things can you delegate to help team members learn new things? Seek to understand where team members want to grow. Give individuals opportunities to try new things. Review and evaluate the experience.
  6. Reward individuals and teams. In his book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Tony Schwartz says, “Perhaps no human need is more neglected in the workplace than to feel valued. Expressing appreciation requires more conscious attention, but feeling valued is as important to us as food.” Watch your team members. Look for opportunities to say thanks and to reward their efforts.

Project managers often look for silver bullets to deliver their projects faster, better, and cheaper. We work on reducing scope, improving project management processes, and adopting new technology. All of these steps are great, but wise project managers focus first on their team members. Lead by showing them you care about their personal growth and development.

1Brian Tracy writes in Now, Build a Great Business, “In the last fifty years, researchers studying the methods of motivating employees and building great teams have found that the single most important motivator turns out to be ‘clear expectations.’ “