20 ways to inspire your team to meet monthly goals

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Andrew Epstein on Performing Under Pressure and Meeting Work Goals


Here are 20 of the best ways I've found to motivate and inspire my team towards doubling our goals each month.

When gathering a team together for your startup or business, you want to be able to have a cohesive group of individuals who can work well together in the quickest way possible to hit and exceed their goals. This requires a leader with skills. Working together well certainly doesn't mean people who are all the same, but rather a team formed from a great diversity of talent, personality, leadership abilities, strategic abilities, and individuals who can and will motivate each other.

There have been many studies conducted on nearly every angle that a leadership style can take. I have made a conscious effort to watch for and collect ideas based on motivational and inspirational leadership styles. Many of the ideas appear to merely be common sense - and yet we don't always do what we know to be a better way.

Some of these ideas have come from recent studies, a few may seem counterintuitive, and several are just a reminder to step it up in our leadership roles. However you use this list, be assured that you can get your team effectively working together to meet and exceed their goals each month.

1. Point out how successes and failures were the result of team interactions

When team members believe they were solely responsible for either the successes or failures of the group, they are more likely to focus on their own individual contributions when working on subsequent group projects. However, research shows that looking at successes and failures as the direct result of group interactions leads to better collaboration. When debriefing with your team, be sure to discuss how the results were impacted by group dynamics and interactions, rather than by pointing out the contributions of individual members.

2. Whenever possible, select team members based on past cooperation

A negative, self-focused or arrogant team member can destroy the motivation and efforts of the entire team. As far as it's in your power, choose individuals with a proven track record of positive input and good collaboration. Hire slow, fire fast.

3. Encourage team members to help less-experienced members

Research tells us that team members are more likely to react well to low-performers if they believe those individuals are simply inexperienced (as opposed to incompetent). Encourage team members (even introverted team members) to mentor and help less-experienced members rather than becoming frustrated or annoyed by their lack of skills or experience.

4. Be warm and directive

A study was done that looked at how workers responded to leaders classified as warm or cold, and leaders who are directive or non-directive. The study found that subjects whose leaders were warm and directive were the most motivated to complete the task at hand. The study's authors write, "Results support the general finding that high-structure, high-consideration leaders facilitate productivity and satisfaction and suggest how leaders might be both oriented toward production and toward people." In other words, don't be afraid to set clear, specific goals; but this must be coupled with a people-orientated mindset.

5. Foster respect among all members

If your team believes a particular member is bringing down the performance of the team, this can have a serious impact on the group's motivation. Encouraging honest but respectful communication within the group may help alleviate some of the tensions and stress caused by this type of group inequality.

6. Remove low performers from the team

When forming a team, you will invariably have members with a variety of skill and ability levels. This is unavoidable and is to be expected. However, a member who performs well below the level of the other members can bring down the motivation of the team as a whole. Don't be afraid to reassign members who just aren't pulling their weight, or who lack the necessary skills to contribute to the team's goals.

7. Remove factors causing dissatisfaction

In his 1959 book The Motivation To Work, Frederick Herzberg identified 6 factors that typically lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace. As much as it's in your power, ensure your employees are happy and satisfied with each of these areas. They are: company policy, supervision, relationship with boss, work conditions, salary and relationships with peers.

8. Foster factors that typically lead to satisfaction

Herzberg also identified 6 elements that commonly lead to workplace satisfaction (and by extension, motivation). Foster these elements whenever possible to boost morale and motivation: achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth.

9. Participate in competitive exercises....but only against external teams

It's commonly believed that competitive team building exercises help foster a sense of collaboration. However, some research suggests that this practice can backfire when not done right. When using these types of team building exercises, be sure to set up your team against another organization. If you pit internal teams or departments against one another, you could actually be increasing animosity and competition within your own company.

10. Recognize each member's accomplishments

Not everyone on your team is going to be a top performer. But some members may contribute in other ways: for instance, by offering encouragement, by doing grunt work (menial tasks), or by offering practical assistance to top performers.. Be sure to recognize each team member's contributions, no matter how small.

11. Don't be afraid to show some vulnerability

Being an effective leader or team member doesn't mean you have to know it all. Sometimes letting down your guard and expressing your vulnerabilities can actually help to encourage and motivate those around you. In the words of business management guru Patrick Lencioni, "Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability."

12. Share your mission with your team mates

Research tells us that workers who feel a strong sense of connection with their company's mission are more motivated than those who are simply trying to further their careers. Communicate your passion and values in a way that inspires and motivates your team to further the mission of your team and organization.

13. Identify individual strengths and assign tasks accordingly

In one survey, 93% of employees said they were most invested in jobs where their unique skills and experience were utilized. Whenever possible, identify the strengths of each team member, and assign tasks that you know are best suited to their unique skills and talents.

14. Explain why the group goals are important

It's easy to lose motivation when you don't fully understand the goal you're working toward. To keep workers motivated, make sure they not only understand the goal, but also the results that will follow from meeting it. Employees must buy into goals in order to remain motivated and productive, and this is one of the best ways to make sure this happens.

15. Use one magic word that motivates workers

It's no secret that teams who work well together are more motivated than those who don't. But how do you foster this type of positive collaboration? Some research suggests using one magic word can make all the difference, and that word is together. In fact, using this word has been shown to increase motivation both when working together, and when working on the same task independently.

16. Flatten your team structure

Strict, hierarchical team structures can leave some members feeling unmotivated to do their best. To counteract this, some companies are trying out an organizational structure called Holacracy (you can read about how Zappos is doing this here). This model takes power from management or team leaders, and distributes it among all workers. And because each person in the team (leader included) has a clear and transparent set of rules to follow, motivation levels are more likely to stay high until the job is complete.

17. Establish a workplace support program

It has been established that these types of programs work well to provide much-needed support to workers. However, research also indicates that these programs increase commitment to an organization by allowing workers to give support. If you're looking for a way to increase feelings of goodwill within your team and strengthen members' commitment to your organization, consider implementing a peer-to-peer support program.

18. Be clear about who you are helping

We know that those who find their work meaningful are more motivated than those who don't. One way you can help workers find more meaning in their work is to be very clear about who they're helping. One study drives this point home: lifeguards were given reading material, either about how their work saved lives, or how it benefited them personally. Those who were reminded about the impact of their job worked 40% more than those who simply read about the personal benefits.

19. State the obvious: "Do your best"

We like to assume that everyone tries their hardest when working on a team. But the truth is that this isn't always the case. Fortunately, some research has found that simply encouraging workers to "do their best" actually has an impact on performance. It may seem silly, but next time your teammates are struggling, this simple admonishment may boost morale and motivation.

20. Set specific, difficult goals

While telling workers to "do their best" results in higher levels of performance, setting specific, difficult goals seems to work even better. Researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham looked at 35 years worth of goal-setting research, and found that setting specific, difficult goals increased motivation, as well as enjoyment of a task: "Setting specific challenging goals is also a means of enhancing task interest and of helping people to discover the pleasurable aspects of an activity."

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20 ways to inspire your team to meet monthly goals

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Are there any strategies you would add to this list? How do you inspire and motivate your team? Share below!

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