3 Unconventional Ways to Motivate Employees When You’re the Boss

Motivation Seminar

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.

4 Simple Habits All Great Leaders Master

Have you ever wondered what separates the good leaders from the great? It’s not raw, natural talent or innate skill. No, it’s something more impactful and difficult to master.

Making the jump from a good leader to a great one begins with a dedication to changing some basic habits. Great leaders like Howard Schultz, Jay Wright, Ron Schaich, Ben Franklin, Oprah and others commonly identify simple habits that have led to their biggest leaps forward. My friend Amber Selking defined a habit as, “Something you do so often, it becomes the very essence of your being.” My favorite example of a habit is looking at your phone in the morning. For most, this is done without a second thought.

If you want to be more like these great leaders, focus on ensuring you have the following simple habits in place.

1. Cultivate a positive morning routine.

Benjamin Franklin had the morning routine figured out to a tee. He called the time from 5 a.m.-7 a.m. “powerful goodness.” This time was spent ordering the priorities of the day, as well as writing, reading, and praying. Additionally, Franklin always took the opportunity to answer one question, “What good will I do today?”

Your morning routine is instrumental in how successful a day you will have. Setting aside this time will directly impact your leadership abilities. While this routine varies from person to person, it can include exercising, praying, meditating, writing, reading, or prioritizing the most important work for you and your team.

Too often, people let social media, email, or work shape their demeanor. This has a direct effect on how you lead your team. A leader is put in a reactive and problem-solving mode, which causes one to act counterintuitively.

Most important, be consistent in what time you get up and what you do each morning.

2. Have an optimistic attitude.

Great leaders know that life and leadership don’t fall in a straight line. There is a combination of highs and lows, often interspersed with scattered things out of their control. That being said, the best leaders choose not to be powerless against the unexpected. Alan Stein Jr. told me on the Follow My Lead Podcast, “The one thing you have control over every day is your attitude and your effort.”

Oprah Winfrey credits her immense success as a talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist to one thing: a positive attitude. Winfrey envisioned a life where her biggest hopes and dreams were a reality. She made sure to do so with unwavering optimism, and we all know where that took her.

Having a sunny outlook on life every day is a choice. Implementing a sunnier disposition will quickly become habitual when you realize the weight it carries.

So, don’t let events or circumstances dictate your attitude.

3. Set team goals and write them down.

If you don’t set goals for your life, business, team, etc., the results will almost certainly be disappointing. As the famous Zig Ziglar quote goes, “If you aim at nothing, you will probably hit it every time.”

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, studied the art and science of goal setting. In researching 267 people from different backgrounds and professions, she found the achievement of goals is 42 percent more likely when you write them down on a regular basis.

Ron Shaich, CEO and founder of Panera Bread, makes time each Christmas to write down his yearly goals. “I write down initiatives for myself, my family, my health, my work, and my God — all the things that I think matter. I write where I’m trying to get to and how I’m going to get there”, he says. Shaich estimates he keeps about 75 percent of his commitments as a result of completing his yearly ritual.

While most leaders have goals for themselves, it can’t be assumed they have been set for their team. It is crucial to the success of your business that you establish what you want to achieve with your team. Then write them down and communicate about them on a regular basis.

4. Model the definition of leadership.

I define leadership as someone’s whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time. But simply knowing this definition isn’t enough for the most influential leaders — the real difference lies in living it out.

I have yet to encounter a strong leader who isn’t keenly aware of how important their actions are, as far as setting an example to the people they lead. Many are borderline fanatical about the decisions they make and the positions they put themselves in.

Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET network, leads by example through her passion. She says, “I want every one of my employees to look at me with dignity and respect. I want to be someone they are proud to work for.”

With today’s busy and noisy world, what matters more than your words are your actions. Be intentional every single day and have a relentless focus on being a role model of leadership for your people.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health 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. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.