Among the key skills we look for in our talent pool is the ability to take initiative and be self-motivated. These skills probably allow leaders the most mental peace. Knowing that your team is charged up, delivering quality results and aiming for the achievement of goals, day after day. Awesome isn’t it? In reality though, such energy diminishes over time and productivity tends to reduce. It’s a natural cycle that every team experiences. That’s the moment when you, their leader, needs to step in and motivate your team.

In theory, it’s great to have a team of self-motivated individuals. But let’s be honest with ourselves – are they truly so self-motivated that your input is redundant? I don’t believe a team can continuously, year after year, remain motivated without some level of intervention from their leader. Their motivation needs refreshing. And that’s what your job, as their leader is. To rekindle and fuel their passion for the job.

To start this year on a positive note with a team that’s highly pumped up for the challenges ahead you’ll need a plan to motivate them. Here are a few things you can do to achieve this:

1. Clear Expectations

Ever sat through a performance review meeting and have a team member say to you “but I didn’t know what was expected off me”? Sometimes what’s obvious in your mind isn’t so for your team. You can’t hold it against them if expectations weren’t clearly laid out. In the end you’ll have a team of individuals scrambling aimlessly and without a common purpose.

Expectations need to be clear from the start. For a new recruit, it should be clarified within the first few days of their joining. For your present team members’ it’s imperative that you dedicate some time early on in the year to address your expectations off them. A common mistake leaders make is “assuming” that their team knows. Don’t leave any aspect of your expectation to such assumptions. That means you have to be meticulous in your briefing. Get into the details of what exactly your objectives are for the team. Be clear the behaviors you expect and the achievements you aim to make during the year. And remember to not just do this once a year. Clearing your expectations to motivate your team is on-going.

2. Nurture and Value

You know that comforting feeling you get when you know someone’s got your back? That no matter how difficult the journey is, you’ll always have a guiding hand to steer you to safety. That’s exactly the feeling that motivates people to continue challenging themselves and pushing the boundary to achieve even more greatness.

That’s the comfort your team should feel from you. A feeling that they are nurtured and taken care of. That they’re supported and encouraged. That even though they make mistakes, the learning will make them stronger because they have the confidence of their leader. To motivate your team you’ll need to make them feel valued and believe that they’re not just a cog in a machine. That they hold importance to you and that you rely on them for the team to function optimally. And if you really want to prove that you value your team then make them feel trusted and in return honor their belief that they can trust you.

3. Make it Personal

Your vision and goals for the company may be bold but they matter quite little to your team. And that’s because everything you’re envisioning is too broad for them to embrace in the short term. Individuals have a hard time relating to these visions. They see where the company is headed and what it’s trying to achieve. They may even understand what contributions they have to make to materialize these goals for the company. But the question that troubles them is “what’s in it for me?”

This is why you, as their leader, must step up and visually place them into the overall vision of the company. The presentation of the company vision should be tied in with each individual team members’ personal vision, goal and career path. Each of them should be able to see not only what their contributions are, but what the achievement of those broad goals means for them. How they can benefit from it. The progress they’ll enjoy. Basically to motivate your team to contribute and strive for more you’ll need to paint a pretty picture where their personal gains are visible to them. In fact, you may want to even align the team’s goals with their personal goals. That way they’ll see their growth in the company’s growth.

The year ahead presents itself as yet another opportunity for us all to make an impact in our personal and professional lives. As a leader, you’ll face stiff challenges, but remember you’re not the only one. To overcome these challenges and make the most of the opportunities that come about you’ll need a team of highly motivated individuals who are aligned to a common goal. If you motivate them early (and frequently) you could be cruising through the year and accomplishing even more than what you had initially planned.