When it comes to managing a business, motivating staff performance ranks as one of the most necessary and impactful skills a leader can develop. In fact, the ability to encourage and empower a team to reach their potential and beyond is what distinguishes people who happen to hold positions of power from those who are powerful leaders.
The ability to motivate, distinguishes businesses that get by from high-growth businesses that flourish.
Like any skill, motivating staff to achieve better overall performance can be learned, practiced and improved over time.
Use these five tips to enhance your ability to motivate, and bring your team to new heights. As you introduce these practices into your daily actions, you’ll begin to notice a snowball effect of an increasingly motivated staff and a ripple effect of better individual and group performance spreading throughout your team.
1. Lead by example.
Empowering others must always start from within. It might be clichéd but this statement still rings true. By being your best self and leading as a living example of what you expect from your team, you’ll not only inspire others to be their best selves, but you’ll foster trust in your team as you align your words with your actions.
Being an authentic leader who recognises your own development can have a big impact on the way your team interprets your leadership. A leader who says “work hard” and then sits back and watches everyone work is not a leader that anyone wants to follow. In fact, they’re not leading at all: Even the word “leader” is all about doing – leading so that others can follow. The power to dictate does not make one powerful. Embracing your own true power to impact your company and perform better every day will lead your team toward better performance.
2. Be clear about your expectations and values.
Progress requires clarity. The more clarity you create in the workplace, the easier it is to define outcomes, allocate resources, and focus on results.
Having clear expectations for your staff gives them the confidence to move forward in their daily tasks. Clarity opens doors for communication, saves time and hassle by minimising misunderstandings and confusion, and leaves everyone with a little more energy to focus on the next step, rather than getting tangled up in messy details and unnecessary backtracking.
And like many leadership practices, being clear benefits from the boomerang effect: When you practice it, it returns to you.
When you are clearer with your staff, they will feel more able and willing to be clear with you, creating better communication and smoother progress on both sides. Your team will feel more motivated to perform better when they have more energy to progress actions, having spent less struggling to clear things up.
3. Fuel the right flames.
As you and your team become more aware and outspoken about your expectations as a leader, you can strengthen that foundation of a clear standard in a positive way by fueling the right flames. Motivation is like a flame in that the more it is fanned, the more it will grow.
Remember the values you’ve decided are important, then notice when your staff members are acting in accordance with those values. Acknowledge and reward your team when they have met your expectations, and especially (but not only) when they have exceeded them.
Affirmation is a powerful tool for motivating staff performance, as the act of affirming reinforces one’s ability work harder and perform better – and they feel good doing so. By pointing out positive habits and little successes, you are nurturing your team members’ individual strengths and encouraging others to improve theirs. You’re also, in effect, encouraging your team to affirm their fellow team players, which brings us to our fourth point.
4. Actively create a supportive environment.
High performance in business is often about risk, and for employees, the ability and desire to take risks depends on how supported they feel in the workplace. As a leader, you can motivate employees to take smart risks by actively creating a supportive work environment. If managers and employees feel they can come to you with questions and uncertainties without fear of feeling embarrassed or brushed off, they can be more actively engaged in the company.
Participation is a great motivator, as it allows staff members to feel more invested in the goals and successes of the company. And the key to increasing participation is creating a supportive environment.
A supportive work environment is one in which communication is fluid between employees and across ranks, ideas and participation are welcomed by upper-level managers, and both successes and failures are treated with respect.
Building relationships with your team members by taking a little time each day to have person-to-person exchanges goes a long way in transforming a work atmosphere into one that is more personal, nurturing and supportive.
5. Pass the torch.
Finally, empowering your staff is the greatest way to motivate better performance. By passing on leadership decisions and responsibilities to your staff, you are ridding them of their doubt that what they do at work doesn’t really matter, and instead, enforcing the idea that every team player has something unique and valuable to contribute. By making your staff feel that they are valued by passing on real tasks – not filler projects that are just for show – they will be empowered to speak up, participate, and exceed your expectations.
A good leader inspires and motivates others to take on leadership roles and embody the qualities of a leader. Empower your team by passing the leadership torch from time to time and give them authentic reign to make important decisions and have a real impact on the company. By passing the torch, you are strengthening your staff and their morale, thus heightening their performance and paving the way for even better performance thereafter.
Embrace these five tips as part of your leadership practices, and find your own way of developing them in your business. In doing so uniquely and authentically, you’ll begin motivating staff performance for your business in no time.