Motivational Techniques

  | James Innes

Perhaps one of the most effective ways of motivating a team is to ensure that they understand and appreciate the aims of an organisation and are supported by their managers in working towards the achievement of those aims.  There is a range of motivational techniques that can be used to improve productivity, reduce workplace stress and increase self-confidence.

Negative motivational forces

Some managers believe that they can achieve results from their teams by shouting and swearing at them or by threatening them with disciplinary action.  However, although this fear factor can indeed produce results, the effects will probably be much more short-term and will mean that staff are not focused on achieving business objectives but rather on simply keeping their jobs!  Alternatively, setting unrealistic targets can also have a negative impact – no matter how hard the team works, they cannot reach the target and therefore can become demotivated.

Positive motivational forces

There is a wide range of positive ways to motivate a team but it is important to remember that these should also be implemented fairly.

  • Offering rewards and incentives – bear in mind that rewards must be deserved and recognition should be given only to those who have earned it
  • Encouraging healthy competition – this can be advantageous but can also be detrimental when pitting staff against each other 

Identifying individual motivational triggers

Each member of a team can respond in different ways to motivational factors – what drives some may in fact be what leads to poor performance in others!  You can find out what motivates the team by:

  • Simply asking them individually – this shows your personal interest in them and that you value their input
  • Holding team meetings to discuss general opinions – this can also help to improve the team spirit
  • The completing of feedback forms or questionnaires – these should be confidential so that employees will be open and honest about their feelings towards company policies and procedures

For each team member, it is important to identify their motivators both at home and in the workplace and to ascertain whether or not they consider themselves to be valued by the company.  Any specific issues that are raised should be seen to be addressed – this alone can motivate the team by demonstrating the importance of their opinion and by showing them that the exercise has been worthwhile.

Motivational techniques

There are a number of ways of inspiring and motivating a team and these include the use of:

  • Positive imagery
  • Team-building activities
  • Training
  • Enhanced communication
  • Targets, rewards and incentives

Positive imagery
Posting motivational themes and messages, in the form of slogans or quotes, can help to positively empower a team.  By enabling them to visualise success, through the words of celebrities or industry professionals, they are more likely to be able to imagine similar success for themselves thus motivating them to improve their performance.

Team-building activities
Despite mixed feelings about team-building activities, the fact that they encourage people to work together outside the office environment can be a definite advantage.  They can encourage healthy competition and give each member of staff the opportunity to be on the winning team.  Improving team relationships can result in increased productivity and morale, and can lead to a much happier and healthier working environment.  Such exercises can also help in the resolution of pre-existing issues within the team.  It is important that all team-building exercises are carefully balanced to ensure that they do not play to the particular strengths, or weaknesses, of employees but are designed instead to give everybody a chance of success.

People can be taught to become more motivated by showing them how to deconstruct tasks and challenges, and how to feel less intimidated by their job roles.  Demonstrating to them how to cope in the workplace can lead directly to improved motivation.

Enhanced communication
Communication does not only mean talking to your team but also listening to them.  It is important to ensure their understanding of company objectives and their individual job roles but it is equally important to show them the importance of their feedback to the achievement of targets and standards.

Targets, rewards and incentives
It is generally accepted that having targets to work towards, as long as they are realistic, is one of the most effective ways of improving performance.  Hitting targets improves morale and self-confidence but remember that those who consistently underachieve will end up feeling demotivated.

Target achievement can be rewarded not only with financial incentives but perhaps with the offer of increased responsibility or even promotion.  Different people are motivated by different things so it is important to make sure that you offer the right incentives to the right member of the team.

Motivating a team is always easier if you fully understand that they may not necessarily be motivated by the same things as you.  The most effective teams are those that feel valued and supported but also feel that they are progressing and developing through the completion of challenging tasks.  If a team understands company objectives, they are much more likely to want to work harder towards their achievement.  Also, most people tend to respond well to being given the opportunity to make decisions and take on additional responsibilities. Whatever motivational techniques work the best, it is always important to ensure that your team feels it is making a valuable and positive contribution.

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