Who is responsible for a motivated team?

The headline read ‘Attitude and motivation training needed say line managers’. Surely you can’t train people to be motivated, I thought!

The article went on to report that when managers were asked in an on line poll what skills their teams needed training in the most, 34% said training related to improving attitude and motivation was most needed.  But shouldn’t this come from the manager?  Obviously the right training will play a big part in keeping your staff motivated, but what else needs to be in place?

In such uncertain times it can be difficult to keep staff motivated.  Is it important that they feel enthusiastic about their work?  We know that a demotivated team can lead to poor performance, poor customer service, poor attendance and ultimately lead to losing not only your best people, but also losing you business.  We also know that uncertainty or change is unsettling. 

So how can you diminish the affects? 

Left unchecked you will run the risk of unsubstantiated rumours, a drop in productivity, and potentially losing key team members.  Keep an eye out for the signs of declining motivation – an increase in time off sick, time spent surfing the internet (maybe looking for other jobs) a change in work patterns either doing less through lack of drive, or doing more through fear of being seen to be dispensable.

Getting the basics right
There are lots of theories on motivation and what motivates people will vary from person to person.  However there are a number of factors that will crop up time and again, so get these right and you will be well on the way to creating the right environment for a commited and motivated team

Direction
People need to know what is expected of them and how this will be measured
Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages
Set standards, and be consistent in these.  This includes ensuring the same rules apply to everyone
Provide the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively

Look and Listen
Ensure you are approachable
Provide support when needed and be receptive to when this is required –   Not  everyone will be confident enough to ask for this
Consult with staff and listen to their ideas – They may be able to offer better ways of doing things
Listen to and act quickly on staff concerns
Take time to talk to your staff to build relationships and show an interest in them as individuals
Identify what is important to them

Recognise
Recognise and reward good performance and achievements
Give feedback – what have they done well and how it has contributes; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved
Celebrate and share successes
Identify and utilise people’s strengths – delegate and give them some control and ownership 
Provide development to capitalise on strengths

In times of change
Let people know what is going on.  When savings are needed let your team know this – most people can be very resourceful in coming up with options, especially when it is a choice between bringing in more business, reducing costs, or making staff cuts. 

Communicate any changes you intend to make before they happen, and involve them in the process as much as possible.  Whether the changes affect them directly or not, anything out of the norm will be unsettling and will have an impact on morale and subsequently productivity.  Then keep people up to date with progress.  Have the changes made had the impact you had hoped. What is happening in the way of new business.  You don’t want to be giving false hope, but equally when things have been implemented that have had a positive impact let them know, so you gain their buy-in, and encourage them to look for further opportunities.

Consider staff cuts to be a last resort – Before taking this step consider the knock on effects.  Short term, an impact on those remaining – a drop in morale, drop in productivity, increased stress and absenteeism, impact on client satisfaction, and what provision do you have if you do win that big contract you have been chasing?  Longer term consider the cost of replacing people and your reputation as an employer with both prospective employees and clients.

Remember – if your staff are your most valuable asset, remember to treat them as such and hopefully it will stay that way.

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