“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.” - Pat Riley
Motivation is one of the most difficult actions to maintain on a consistent basis. When dealing with a group of individuals, this problem intensifies, and the business can lose out on new potential sales and lose longtime customers. In order to ensure steady growth and maintain customer satisfaction, team members have to work hard both together and individually. This is where team leaders find the biggest challenges. They don’t understand how to consistently keep their teams motivated. Their current practices aren’t working and what’s good as an industry standard may not work well for them. Surprisingly, turning things around isn’t that hard — in fact, it’s quite simple.
Hold a team meeting. Managers that notice a loss in team morale may prefer to hold team meetings. Getting the whole team involved is a great way to promote collective problem solving and a more collaborative corporate culture. Sometimes it’s hard for one person to pinpoint an issue or to brainstorm solutions; however, once that person hears the ideas of his teammates, his creative processes are triggered so contributing becomes much easier.
The problem that some businesses have with team meetings is productivity (usually due to a lack of participation from the team members). To avoid this pitfall, the point of the meeting should be addressed in the beginning. It should also start off in a positive tone instead of a negative one. When conversations begin with a negative tone, the people being addressed go into defense mode. This causes them to close up and check out of the conversation.
Let’s say company ABC was suffering from declining sales. They shouldn’t start their meeting by saying: “Our sales are dreadful this quarter. What are you guys doing wrong?” They should start the meeting by saying: “We’ve fallen a bit short of our sales goals this quarter, so we want to know what you think may have contributed to this? We want to gain your feedback to ensure that we’re doing everything possible to make work processes more effective.”
By choosing the latter, people are more likely to be supportive and offer valuable feedback.
Talk to the team members one by one. During a group assessment, team leaders can determine what problems their teams are experiencing as a whole. However, an individual assessment can be much more productive. According to Stanard and Associates, many organizations use this type of assessment to maximize person-job fit. Others may use the assessment as a way to pick their employees brains about ways to improve work processes.
To make the most of the assessment (especially as it pertains to business improvement), the employee is given a set of questions to answer before the meeting and these questions are explored in depth during the meeting. According to Indigo Oceans, some of the more common questions for this kind of assessment are:
- What do you see as the primary drivers of success in our organization?
- List specific contributions to your team, the company or to a customer?
- How would you describe the corporate culture here? What leadership opportunities could you take to improve company culture?
- What feedback or questions do you have for me as it relates to your goals and objectives for the next 6 months?
While some businesses feel a group assessment is more forgiving time wise, the cost of forgoing individual assessment is apparent immediately.
By assessing each team member individually, managers can easily spot weak links or strong contenders and discover individuals who are worthy of promotion. Other businesses use personal assessments as a way to problem solve. Once the problem is highlighted, developing a plan to motivate or challenge that individual is much more effective.
Make use of a Performance Improvement Plan. Whether a business manager decides to hold a team meeting, individual assessments or both, a performance improvement plan should follow. These plans are used to stimulate and reinforce the need to make continuous changes. A typical PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) contains the following items:
- The problems identified during the meeting.
- Expectations for solving the problems.
- Resources to assist the employees.
- Plans for progress (including upcoming reviews).
- Consequences for not meeting the goals set in the PIP.
Although PIPs are often given as a form of warning to employees who consistently lack progress, they can also be used as a motivational tool when approached proactively.
Work progress and business growth go hand in hand. However, every member of team must work cohesively to make it happen. So long as managers continue to assess their staff’s progress and team members are more vocal about their challenges, the business has nowhere to go but up.