Observe the vibes at your workplace on a typical day. The enthusiasm. The energy levels. The motivation. Or perhaps a lack thereof. After all, who expects our staff to arrive at work each day like a bunch of excited bunnies? Work is just that, dreary old work.
We know that lack of motivation at work inevitably has an adverse effect on productivity. As a leader, there are 3 questions that you should consider of your team members and to address them so as to bring about positive change:
1) How can I make their work Interesting?
During my earlier days as a team lead, I had always felt the need to make each member’s job as straightforward as possible. I would try to clear the path by taking on the most difficult stuff and leave the team to carry out the easy tasks. But I came to realise that this wasn’t good leadership; not only had I deprived my team the chance to develop, I had also made their work boring.
People need to be stimulated in order boost productivity, and it won’t happen if their senses are dulled by carrying out familiar tasks day after day, month after month. Leaders thus ought to frequently offer challenging work to the team. It could be an enhancement of their current scopes, or in the form of new projects for the team to embark on.
You may meet with some resistance initially (sometimes staff prefer their work to remain status quo), but I’ve noticed that most people eventually relish a new challenge laid before them as it makes their work more meaningful and fulfilling. They go home at the end of each day with a sense of accomplishment, which in turn increases their job satisfaction and hence productivity.
Do not be afraid of handing greater responsibilities to your team members, thinking that you are overloading them. You’d be surprised at how much more productive they become when they feel that they are doing something interesting beside the same old work.
2) How can I make them feel Appreciated?
Showing appreciation is something so simple, but many leaders unfortunately neglect this aspect, leaving their staff demotivated and disengaged with their jobs.
Appreciation is not just about lavishing rewards or treats to a team every now and then. I had been in teams working on projects whereby management showed indifference, or even castigated us when we encountered difficulties. When the project was finally completed, the team would receive an email invitation for an ”appreciation lunch” from the management to thank us for the hard work. Yep, just take some funds from the department budget and get the secretary to book a meal at the restaurant. Instead of feeling appreciated, most of us were left with a sense of cynicism.
Leaders can show appreciation in many little ways, but the key is to be sincere and personal. Don’t take your team members’ efforts for granted. If they stay back beyond working hours to help you out, be sure to recognise it and thank them. Be generous with your praise and let them know if you think they have done well.
When leaders are appreciative, their team members no longer just work for a pay cheque, but find extra motivation in knowing that what they do genuinely makes a difference.
3) How can I make them feel Important?
We all like to feel important—not necessarily in the egotistical sense—but to feel that we count; that our input and opinions matter. This applies to the workplace as well.
Yet we often see management taking a top-down approach in setting the direction of where a project is headed, which tends to alienate staff and result in apathy towards their work. Nevertheless, even if this is happening on an organisational level, what you can do is to involve your team in the decision-making process on a departmental level. It could be as simple as asking for their views or thoughts during the course of a project instead of telling them how to execute their work.
You can also pull them in to join meetings where relevant so that they are let in on things going on within the project. Be transparent in your communication so that your team do not feel that they are being kept in the dark on certain matters.
When your team members are being involved in matters, they feel that they have a personal stake and role to play in the success of a project. This sense of importance will prove to be a powerful driver of productivity.
1) Is my team suffering from a lack of enthusiasm and motivation in their work?
2) What can I do today to make my team members’ work more interesting, let them feel appreciated, and give them a greater sense of importance?