Remember Mr Motivator, the Lycra-clad fitness guru of nineties TV? He’s a prime example that motivation is personal; what inspires some annoys others. Which is why you need a range of approaches to engage and motivate your team. In this blog post, we set out some of the theoretical models of motivation and five techniques you can implement to get the best from your people.

Motivating Factors

Search online for theories about motivation and you’ll find plenty of different approaches to the topic. The best-known is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that suggests people’s basic requirements must be taken care of before they are motivated to achieve higher level needs such as learning new skills.

Expectancy Theory postulates that individuals behave in a certain way because they expect a particular outcome. Both positive and negative outcomes, or the carrot and the stick, can be used to motivate behaviour.

Then there’s Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of motivation. He believed that individuals are influenced by motivational factors that lead to satisfaction and motivate employees to work harder. Examples include enjoying your work and feeling that your efforts are recognised. Then there are hygiene factors that can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation such as low pay or poor relationships with managers or colleagues.

These are just a few of the theories surrounding motivation. The wide variety of models tells us that individual drivers differ from person to person and from situation to situation. Which means, as a manager, knowing your team is key. The following five motivational approaches give you a range of approaches to inspire your team.

1. Tell Your Team You Notice

Recognition is a powerful motivator because it shows people that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.
From a simple thank you for a job well done to giving someone something of value to them. That could be a gift related to one of their hobbies, access to knowledge or training or something of cash value. If budgets are limited, here’s a great list of low-cost recognition options.

Knowing your team will help you align the right gift to their personal preferences making them valuable, not necessarily in cash terms, but in meaning. Don’t forget the tax implications of providing recognition in all its forms.

2. Establish Your Team’s Purpose

You’ve probably heard the noise about purpose being a key motivator for millennials. But the truth is, purpose is important for everyone because we all want to feel we contribute something of value.

Although the word ‘purpose’ has been translated to mean ‘doing good in the world’, your organisation’s ‘why’ doesn’t need to be altruistic. In reality, purpose means different things to different people; providing for family, making enough money to retire early or buy a house or being recognised as an expert in your field.

Help you team understand your organisation’s purpose then help them find their own. Once you know their work-life purpose you can find ways to help them achieve it.

3. Treat Your Team as Well as You Want Your Boss to Treat You

Employees expect their boss to do more than telling them what to do and when. While you don’t need to be friends with your team to be a good manager, you do need to treat your team well. This will reduce some of the main push factors that make people more likely to leave.

By taking a genuine interest in people’s problems, like work-life balance, listening to your team when they need to talk pays dividends in terms of improved loyalty and retention.

4. Take a Genuine Interest in Your Employees’ Futures

In business, many things can be unpredictable. However, career paths are something over which you can exercise a good deal of control. Giving people a reason to look forward and stay is a great motivator. By letting people know where they can take their careers and how to do it you’ll make them feel focussed and more certain. Plus, they’ll also be inspired to step up in their current role to demonstrate their capability for their next career move.

5. Show Your Team the Bigger Picture and Let Them Lead

It’s important for teams to understand how what they’re doing contributes to a bigger whole. Assigning individuals tasks and projects and explaining how they contribute to the overall business strategy is highly motivating. Asking your team to lead projects (or elements of projects) and team meetings to make them feel valued and show them that they make a difference. This allows them to share their opinions and be heard as well as motivating them to take ownership.

There are lots of different ways to inspire your team without donning Lycra. Now, go forth and motivate!