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Motivation Doesn’t Just Happen. You Need to Work At It.

If you’re married or have a close friend, you know how much effort it takes to maintain a healthy and positive relationship. Frequent interactions are mandatory. Open communications are essential. Slack off — even for just a few weeks — and the relationship suffers.

So why is it that many managers rarely interact with their teams. And when they do, it’s to give instructions or orders. Those managers don’t have a relationship with their people at all. The company controls the relationship and it amounts to “I’m the boss. Do as I say.”

That’s a buzz-kill!

Here are five suggestions for motivating your team members and building relationships with them. Try to keep it low-key and genuine.

  1. Be generous with praise. Everyone likes to be praised. It doesn’t cost the company any money and it’s easy to do. Praise people privately. Praise them publicly. Encourage senior managers and executives to do it too. Praise from the boss’s boss is extra special.
  2. Empower the team. Let them make their own decisions rather than constantly seeking approval from management. No one wants to let their team down. They’ll work harder and be happier. Lead, don’t control.
  3. Take a team member to lunch occasionally. Make it a surprise not a policy. Walk up to someone and invite them to lunch with you. Minimize the shop talk and get to know each other.
  4. Give recognition and small rewards. Offer a shout out to someone in a team or company meeting. Issue a challenge and make it a contest or a game. Have fun with it.
  5. Have a party. Group activities go a long way. Have a picnic. Organize birthday parties. Hold a happy hour. Find a reason to celebrate. Don’t wait for a holiday.

It’s great if you can afford to offer rewards to people. This may be difficult as some companies are real tightwads. Here is a bunch of ideas for rewards. Some are cheap and some aren’t. Provide rewards and incentives as gestures of appreciation for an accomplishment. The reward should be timely, direct, personal and specific. Try to match the reward to the effort made.

Reward Ideas

  • Bag (there are many options)
  • Bonus
    • Gift card
    • Cash
    • US Savings Bond
  • Clock (desk, wall or wrist)
  • Dinner certificate for two
  • Gadget (elegant or fun)
  • Hat or cap
  • Jacket or sweater
  • Limousine service
  • Mug or glass
  • Pen
  • Personalized reward based on …
    • Family Situation
    • Hobbies
    • Personal interests
  • Pin with slogan or motto
  • Pocket knife/toolset
  • Points (to be accumulated and cashed in)
  • Shirt
  • Special event
    • Bowling
    • Group lunch or dinner
    • Group movie – rented or at a theater (supply food, popcorn & soda)
    • Paintball
    • Picnic
    • Pizza party
    • Roller/ice skating
    • Trip to the mall to buy a gift or have some ice cream
  • Special project or time to work on a pet project
  • Sweatshirt
  • Tickets to a movie, play or event
  • Time off with pay
  • Trophy or plaque
  • T-shirt
  • Vacation trip
  • Water bottle
  • Weekend getaway

Surely there’s something on this list you can do? Be sure to engrave or embroider personal items. Use your imagination. Motivation doesn’t just happen. You need to work at it.

photo credit: rosipaw via photopin cc

Updated: November 12, 2012 — 10:09 pm

1 Comment

  1. I like the list you provided. Most managers like to give something or do something, but are stumped when it comes to the specifics.

    I would however tread carefully with your first point, be generous with praise. Praise and other types of rewards can create perverse results such as dependency and competition for attention. I would say, however, be generous with *recognition* (your point #4). People crave recognition for their deeds, even when the results aren’t great and the recognition is that of constructive feedback.

    Thanks for the post,
    Gil Broza,
    Author, “The Human Side Of Agile: How to Help Your Team Deliver”

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