Upon returning from maternity leave, Katherine knew that she would struggle with balancing work and being a new parent. In addition to being able to cut back to a part-time work schedule, her job as a consultant fortunately allowed her with the flexibility to work from home. Her supervisor, Richard, worked with her to create an accommodating schedule and a way of coordinating and managing projects and tasks that was mutually beneficial.
As amazing and understanding as her supervisor was, and as lucky as she was to have been given the opportunity to figure out how to juggle the two jobs, Katherine found herself struggling from time to time. No matter how hard she tried to stay engaged and dedicated to her work, projects that were already on the back burner stayed there, procrastination reared its ugly head, and Katherine started to worry that soon her boss would have a serious chat with her about her lack of motivation and inability to complete tasks she never struggled with in the past.
Having always had open lines of communication with Richard, Katherine brought up these issues during their weekly meeting. Being genuinely invested in the performance and well-being of his employee, Richard took the time to implement effective motivational techniques and reach solutions that would help get Katherine out of her funk and back in the game.
Even the most committed and loyal employees run into these obstacles. Life happens, other priorities take precedence, and we slowly begin to slack. This month we have been discussing the various types of and needs for motivation in the workplace, including self-motivation, motivating employees, motivating those who you don’t supervise or “shouldn’t” have to manage, and motivating an efficient team.
Whether it be yourself, a coworker, or an employee, learning how to recognize when motivation is lacking and when to take the appropriate steps to rectify any issues is a skill necessary to any professional individual. Reaching out to help a colleague who is struggling, and knowing when to ask for help when you are in a funk yourself helps to ensure job satisfaction, maximum productivity, and the overall positive morale of yourself, your employees, and your team as a whole.
Most of us either love working in a team environment, or loathe it. Some people work better independently, while others thrive in group settings. Regardless of your personal preference, the majority of jobs require you to work with others from time to time. With a mix of different personalities and work preferences, keeping everyone on track and on the same page can be a challenge at times.
Much like self-motivation, teams often start off on a great note, but along the way the group can falter and can need a little extra nudge to get back on track. How do you not only get, but keep your team motivated, particularly when you may have individuals who require different things to stay engaged?
- Create a Common Goal – Clear expectations are a vital part of managing employees. Especially when working with a team, everyone has a different way of doing things and has different methods and techniques used to reach the goal. When you clearly communicate what that common goal is, it helps keep everyone on the same page, with employees putting aside their individual differences to work in unison to reach that end result.
- Appreciate their Work – Just like you should strive to praise individual employees for their achievements and accomplishments, compliment your team for a job well done. When they know that you are genuinely interested in their work, and invested in their success, team morale and esteem is boosted which results in a more loyal, dependable, and engaged team.
- Team Building Activities – Taking the time to strengthen the relationships amongst your team members can lead to increased productivity and quality of work, enhanced job satisfaction, a reduction in wasted time, and improved communication overall. There are countless activities you can participate in with your team, including group discussion sessions, employee feedback activities and surveys, day trips or parties, and small celebrations of team successes.
Taking the time to keep your team motivated and engaged can result in a more dedicated and trustworthy group of individuals. It is your job as their leader to set the example and to inspire your employees to strive for and achieve success. Be there for your team and focus on being genuine and building respect. When they feel you have their best interests in mind, the results will be mutually beneficial for you, the team, and the organization as a whole.
Ever since her supervisor returned from a week long camping trip this summer, Jeanne has noticed that his usual interactions with his employees have been faltering. Where he typically would encourage and inspire his team to perform at their very best, Dave has been seemingly in his own world, letting his employees have free reign over projects and assignments. While autonomy to some degree can be a great motivator in and of itself, throwing your workers to the wolves is quite another story.
The team lead of Dave’s department, Jeanne is aware that Dave has been dealing with quite a lot in his personal life, and knows from personal experience how hard it can be to get back into the groove after a relaxing vacation. However, Jeanne needs her supervisor to step up and retake his managerial duties, which she has been picking up during his physical (and frankly, mental) absence.
A common situation many of us face in the workplace, what do you do when your supervisor, or someone who you wouldn’t necessarily manage (whether that be a coworker, your own manager, or a supervisor in another area) needs a bit of extra motivation to get them moving in the right direction again?
Show Your Appreciation – Managers. They’re just like us. When we get praise for a job well done, it boosts our self-esteem, leading to higher levels of productivity and more engagement in our work. Managers are no different. Let them know you appreciate their hard work and give thanks when they go the extra mile to help you out.
What Makes Them Tick? – On the flip side to motivating your employees by finding out what makes them tick, take the time to learn what gets your supervisors and coworkers going. So often in team environments it takes a village, and whether you’re at the top of the ladder or just starting out, when we all work together to stay engaged and driven we reach the end result in a happier, more effective manner.
Practice Empathy – Everyone has bad days. Your car breaks down, you’re late dropping the kids off at school, the cat gets sick, you get sick, etc. Any number of things can happen to put you in a funk. Remember that the same thing happens to managers; they’re human too and not holding them to unrealistic expectations and ideals means less stress for everyone.
Don’t Be a Thorn in Their Side – When your supervisors are already lacking the drive they need to perform at their best, the last thing they need is their employees causing even more problems. Be a part of the solution; try not to give them more to worry about (e.g., poor performance or behaviors) and work to provide ideas and suggestions that may give them the push in the right direction to get back into their groove.
We are all human and regardless of where we sit in the chain of command, what department we work in, or who we work under or with, everyone needs a bit of motivation from time to time. When we put our differences aside and work as a cohesive unit, the job gets done in an efficient manner, productivity doesn’t falter, and moods across the board stay elevated.
As a manager, motivating your employees and encouraging them to be productive and meet the expectations of their positions should be a top priority. Productive employees are typically happier and have a higher sense of morale, contributing to a more pleasant work environment overall. However, this isn’t always easy, particularly for those employees who struggle with self-motivation. How do you motivate and engage these employees who need that extra push to steer them in the right direction?
Communicate – If your employees don’t know specifically what you want out of them, how can you expect them to perform at a satisfactory level? Communicate your expectations, whether that be the functions of their job, performance standards, or behavioral factors that they can work on. Communication should always be a two-way street. Give and receive feedback in a way that is productive and mutually beneficial.
Lead by Example – The “Golden Rule” applies to the workplace just as much as it did to the schoolyard as children. The simple concept of treating others as you would like to be treated means so much when applied in a work setting. Work on creating this kind of environment for your employees. Put yourself in their shoes and work in a way that would make them want to give back and put forth a genuine effort.
Be Fair and Consistent – Everyone likes a fair, unbiased boss. Apply policies and procedures the same across the board, and try not to play favorites when administering rewards or discipline. Many employees get discouraged when treatment is unequitable and when favoritism abounds. Really focus on how inequitable treatment affects others and be deliberate and unbiased with how you assign tasks and deliver praise and criticism.
Provide Opportunities for Growth – Many employees will respond well to an opportunity to obtain training. Use training and other learning opportunities as incentives for fine work. Select your most diligent or outstanding employees to attend outside seminars and conferences where they can pick up new job skills and spend time mentoring a dedicated employee for an hour or two a week as a reward for excellent performance.
Always keep in mind that each employee is a unique individual and what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for the other. Be observant and learn what makes them tick. Some employees are motivated by power and praise, another may just want some respect and to have their voice heard. Take the time to learn what you can do to help each employee succeed and reap the rewards of more engaged, productive, and an overall happier team.
Here in Oregon, we are currently experiencing a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures ranging between 100 and 110 degrees for the majority of the work week. A state notorious for rain and dreary weather, Oregonians are certainly not used to working and playing in the oven in which we find ourselves in.
When all we want to do is find a way to beat the heat, (whether that be playing hooky and heading to the coast, heading to the mountains to go for a nice, cool swim, or planting ourselves on the sofa to binge watch a show on Netflix, sequestered in a house with air conditioning) it can be incredibly difficult to stay motivated and focused on our work.
Self-motivation is key in times like this. At the end of the day, it is not our boss’ job to keep us on track when all we want to do is put the computer to sleep and head out (honestly, they would probably love to do that as well). That responsibility falls on us. So how do you do it? How do you motivate yourself to stay professionally stimulated during these waves of discouragement?
- Maintain a Positive Attitude – When there seems to be more factors working against you than not, it is critical to stay optimistic. Try to see the positive in the slew of bad and put forth an effort to place an emphasis on those variables; what you have and what is good versus what is lacking and seemingly going wrong.
- Set Small Goals – For most of us, these phases are short lived. As such, set short, easily attainable objectives during these funks to help you succeed. Working on projects and goals to get you through these motivational humps, and establishing a reward for when you accomplish those goals, keeps you focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Reach Out a Helping Hand – Helping others stay motivated is a great way to hold yourself accountable. When you see how well others are doing, it is easier to follow suit. Additionally, when we help others with their work, or with achieving their own goals, those feelings of self-worth help boost our own levels of self-esteem and confidence in our own abilities.
- Give Yourself Breaks – On the flip side to keeping busy, make certain you factor in some breaks and time for self-care. Especially in times when we feel our motivation faltering, one of the worst things we can do is push ourselves too far to the point of a major burnout. Take 15 minutes to read or go for a quick walk, meet a friend for lunch, or do something that you enjoy that rejuvenates your spirit.
Particularly when there are a million other things you’d rather be doing, making it a point to stay focused and motivated at work will positively impact not only you, but your colleagues and coworkers as well. Staying positive, helping others, establishing short goals, and making time for revitalizing breaks are all ways to help you stay on track during the lulls of summer.