Keeping your team motivated day in and day out can be exhausting. Looming deadlines can bring serious stress, and disorganization can destroy even the most motivated folks. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to keep everyone and everything from breaking down and falling apart. Bringing in donuts on Friday is downright delicious, but it’ll only get you so far – as will installing shark tanks beneath team member’s desks (not to mention it can be frightfully expensive). Thankfully, keeping your team on top of it doesn’t have to be difficult, fattening or dangerous. Here are five fresh ways to keep everyone moving forward.
Make sure recognition is earned. Participation trophies are lame; most valuable player awards are far more spectacular. General or generic praise to your team will earn you little enthusiasm or respect, and people can typically tell when you’re just blowing smoke. Instead, make an effort to specifically reward or recognize individuals who actually do an amazing job or put forth extra effort. Be genuine in your approach; taking notice of a team member’s success and applauding their work is a surefire motivator for continued success.
Know your team. Put forth the effort to know each team member’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Consistent communication between you and your team will greatly increase productivity and can help lower stress. If a member of your team is struggling with a particular part of a project but knows another team member is proficient for dealing with that problem, then the issue can be resolved with little fuss. This is only possible when everyone involved has a comfortable level of communication. Likewise, team morale will increase when members know that they can rely on one another for specific problems.
Huddle up. Don’t call it a meeting, people hate meetings. Instead, have a quick daily huddle or check in. At the same time every day, either first thing in the morning or after lunch (people tend to be more alert during these times), have your team gather to share their current projects and progress. These huddles should last no more than 15 minutes and are not designed as a problem-solving venue. The purpose is to keep each team member up to date on other everyone’s progress. This not only ensures communication amongst team members, but it also holds individuals accountable to sharing worthwhile progress each day. Not surprisingly, it’s a heck of a lot harder for someone to procrastinate when they have to give daily updates on their work.
Be a leader, not a manager. Your team members will be enthusiastic about a project if you also express your excitement. Remember, it takes a true leader to have an efficient team. Do you think the Ninja Turtles would have been as successful at bringing down the Foot Clan if Raphael was in charge instead of Leonardo? Obviously not. Every team needs a leader who can communicate and motivate them toward success. While it’s nice to have your team member’s think of you as a peer, keep in mind that you are in charge and you may have to be more direct than you’d like at times.
Decrease stress. Find ways for your team members to release any work-related stress. Try 20-minutes of stretching and calisthenics at the start of each day to get everyone active and ready to function. Or, depending on your work environment, expand casual Friday to casual Thursday. Little things like this show that you are concerned for your team’s well being and are willing to take action to decrease or prevent stress. Organization can go a long way in preventing unnecessary stress, too.