3 Unconventional Ways to Motivate Employees When You’re the Boss
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. Their engagement, motivation, and effort help drive your results, and quite often, they are the potential future leaders of your company.
However, even when you provide meaningful work opportunities, there is no denying that the day to day grind can wear down on you and your team. Burnout is now recognized as an official medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization, and it can rapidly deplete your team’s productivity.
In other situations, your team may need some extra motivation for taking on a daunting challenge. As Zig Ziglar famously said:
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why I recommend it daily.”
As a leader, you have the responsibility to energize your team and help them get motivated to be at their best.
The good news is that boosting your employees’ enthusiasm isn’t necessarily as hard — or time-consuming — as you might expect.
1. Tap into the power of a maximizing mantra.
Mantras may only be a few words long, but they can have a powerful motivating impact. After studying great leaders in different industries, it’s clear they tap into the power of them to help motivate their team. I refer to these in Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success as “Maximizing Mantras.” A maximizing mantra provides energy to the team even before you achieve the results. With just a few words, you create the inspirational drive that helps inspire future successes.
One of the most recent (and well-known) maximizing mantras was college football coach P.J. Fleck’s “Row the Boat,” that helped bring the previously overlooked Western Michigan football team into the limelight with a winning record and a spot in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. The mantra has come to define the coach and his teams, even after he moved to a new job at the University of Minnesota.
In an interview with MLive, Fleck explained that the mantra referred to three parts: the oar, which provided the energy, the boat, which represented the sacrifices that team members, administration and fans were willing to make for the program, and finally, the compass, which symbolized the direction the team wanted to go. Combining all these ideas into a single phrase served as a powerful motivator for the team.
When you find short, simple phrases that encapsulate big ideas, you can quickly inspire your team to work harder and with more intensity than they’ve ever had before.
2. Know what motivates them and lean into it.
Since you lead a team at work, there is a good chance; not everyone is motivated by the same things. For some, all it takes is the almighty dollar, and for others, it could be public praise and recognition.
The best leaders know why their people get out of bed in the morning and continuously look to leverage those personal motivations to reach higher levels of performance.
If you are going to motivate your entire team daily, it’s critical you have a clear goal. But not just any goal; one that has a clear objective + completion date + carrot. The most important part here is the carrot because the carrot is something your teammates will benefit from once the goal is achieved.
3. Allow for on-the-job exercising.
Sometimes, your employees just need to have fun. Giving your team a way to blow off their stress can help them feel re-energized and better equipped for the challenges coming their way. Exercise is a phenomenal way to do this.
For example, I received an unusual tip from Cody Neer, founder of eCommerce Brand Academy, during a recent conversation about his team of 50 employees.
His company relies extensively on remote teams, but this can limit communication. To address this, he does a live Zoom video exercise challenge with his team after lunch. Together, they’ll do ab planks (or something similar) to get blood flowing and have a laugh. This keeps everyone engaged and connected while eliminating the productivity lull that often occurs after lunch.
While strange, studies have proven this might not be a bad idea– as the Wellness Council of America notes, excess stress increases absenteeism and turnover, while also hurting workers’ productivity and overall health. Giving your team unique opportunities to relieve that stress will help mitigate these common issues while also getting those activity trackers on their Apple watches moving a positive direction.
Energizing and motivating your team isn’t something that consistently happens in strategy meetings or one on one performance evaluations. It happens in the small things you do each week to help foster a positive, forward-thinking culture. By taking a little time out of your schedule to use these unique motivational tactics, you can give your team the drive they need to succeed.
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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.