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Two Ingredients for Motivating Your Team

By Daniel Bobinski

In your career, have you noticed that some teams are more motivated than others? Motivated teams rarely happen by accident. Let me give you two suggestions for putting emotional intelligence into action to help get your team motivated.

Get to know the people on your team. What do they value? What are their interests? What do they care about?

Make sure your team has a clear vision and mission – a distinctly identifiable purpose. And make sure you know what that purpose is.

You might say, “But I already know the people on my team.” Maybe you do. However, I conduct a lot of management training, and when people get honest with me, most admit they don’t know much about their coworkers.

The word motivation means, “A reason to move,” and people move for their reasons, not ours. This will sound simple, but a great way to learn what motivates others is by asking questions.

For example, maybe someone on your team is named Sarah, and through ongoing conversations you learn she’s deeply into health and fitness. Or maybe there’s a guy named Mike who’s all about playing the stock market.

When people say they can’t figure out what motivates others, my response is almost always the same: “Have you asked?”

The second point is knowing your team’s distinct purpose and being able to articulate it. When I ask five different team members about the purpose of their team, I usually get five different answers. There needs to be a common purpose, and that purpose needs to be known by all.

When you know what drives people and can articulate your team’s purpose, it’s easier to paint a picture for them, showing how their personal interests and values align with the purpose of the team.

Going back to our examples, when talking with Sarah I might draw a comparison that when each team member gets healthy input from other team members, then everyone can operate at peak performance together to achieve the team’s purpose. When talking with Mike, I might underscore the importance of analyzing trends and factors that impact the team’s bottom line, so we can make good decisions moving forward.

Just know that none of this happens in only one conversation. We’re talking about themes and ideas that must be regularly strengthened and reinforced.

You might say, “But I’ve told everyone our vision and mission, why do I need to tell them again?” To that I say, “You ate yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, right? Why do you need to eat today?” Wouldn’t that be the same logic?

Like all living creatures, people thrive in some environments while they wither in others. With that in mind, remember that teams are stronger when everyone is united in purpose, and reinforcing that unity must be an ongoing process.

Connect people’s interests to your team’s purpose and your team is likely to be more motivated.

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