What are the best ways to motivate a team? Are there best practices that managers can use to lead?
I’m always asking people these questions, trying to improve my understanding of team motivation. Entrepreneur, speaker, and CEO of MyEmployees, David Long, is an expert on motivation and rewards. His company specializes in helping managers link rewards and recognition to the desired goals of the company. The firm he founded has been working at this for twenty five years. His new book, Built to Lead: 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager, is David’s view of what it takes to become a Top 10% manager.
I asked David: what are three ways to best motivate a team? His answer:
1: Show your employees you value their opinions.
Anytime we seek to improve something in a particular department or process within our company, we always tell the employees what we want to happen. Then we ask them, “In an ideal world, what changes can we make to improve the process and make your job easier?” Why do we ask them instead of just telling them what to do? It’s quite simple really. We want buy-in to the needed changes being made, and we insure that by involving them and their input.
Note: Your front-line employees should always be involved in the process when developing the system in which they are expected to produce and perform. If they help create the system, it greatly increases the likelihood of them adopting any changes that may be created as a result. Without that happening, there will definitely be unnecessary resistance.
Recognize Excellent Work
2: Recognize excellence at every opportunity.
Someone once said, “What gets recognized gets repeated.” You want more innovation within your company, then recognize it. You want more employees to take ownership of their responsibilities and care about the success of the company as if it were their own, then recognize it! You want to improve any quantifiable metric of success within your company, such as sales, increased profits, higher dollar per client, then recognize it.
According to research, every employee should be recognized within each seven day period in which they work. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant and, in most cases, is quite simply to accomplish. At our company we have several ways to make sure we practice this by having daily, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual recognition available to all employees at the company. We incorporate a “doggie bowl” (a converted cookie jar) that contains 25 dog bones with various amounts of money engraved on them. Twenty-two have “$20″ engraved on them, along with two $50’s” and one “$100” bone. Each day the top people in each department get to draw from the bowl IF they have met the minimum job standards within their department for the previous day. This increases the overall output of each employee, generates daily excitement, and fosters some “friendly” competition between the employees.
3: Develop a career path and skills development program for each employee.
In my book, Built to Lead: 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager, I cover my system for developing our future company leaders. I call it the “Shark’s Teeth Strategy of Leadership Development.”
If you’re familiar with the mouth of a shark, you know they have rows upon rows of teeth. In fact, it’s rather unique in that one tooth will pop into place after the one in the front row is lost (possibly through wrangling with potential prey). This is exactly the process we use in our company to develop our managers and future leaders. I cover it in much more detail in my book, but for now let me give you the abbreviated version.
When we promote a manager, or have to replace someone who doesn’t fulfill their responsibilities without our using a “cattle-prod” to make that happen, it creates an opportunity for other competent employees to shine. However, having “ready to pop up leaders” (like teeth in the shark’s mouth) will not happen without our company (and yours) taking action to always, as the Boy Scout Motto says, “Be prepared.” So, how do we make sure we have ready and willing candidates anxious to fill the suddenly created “vacancy” on our management teams? We do that by always spending time (several hours each week, in fact, as I explain in my book) in training and grooming them to be prepared to become leaders.
Is there a “litmus test” to determine who gets our attention as to potentially earning a future management position with our company? You bet! Every few months I ask each of our management team members, “God forbid, but if you dropped dead today, or became incapacitated in some way, who would you suggest we promote to take your place?” Once they state who that person is, they know I’m going to ask, “So what are you doing to groom them now?” Always have this at the back of your mind if you want to continue to grow your business each year (as we do at 20% sales growth each year for over a decade).
Your success will not happen by accident, so take action today to insure the long-term success of your company and each employee on your team.Built to Lead: 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager