Keeping Motivation Going Strong in Your Team

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Many teams have been doing more with less and you’ve probably seen that your motivated employees have helped to “pull” the team through challenging times. You’ve also probably discovered that some team members are not as motivated as before. What is happening? How can we change or “re-motivate” people?

Motivation has to come from within the employee. As the employer and leader, you can create the atmosphere that encourages employees to “self motivate.”  In an upcoming article for the July/August issue of Practice Management Solutions magazine, I discuss tying incentive programs to motivated employees and helping unmotivated, low-performance employees see how they can “fit” with the team’s vision and mission.

Watson Wyatt’s 2008/2009 WorkUSA Report, “Driving Business Results Through Continuous Engagement,” talks about the gains in productivity that result from engaged, motivated employees. The report also suggests that the biggest productivity gains come from increasing engagement of the middle group of employees which represent about 60 percent of the workforce.

Finding out about employees’ feelings and motivation is challenging and also surprising. Here are some ideas to engage employees—let our community  know what has worked for you:

  1. Talk to all your employees—Same meeting format and time length regardless of performance and motivation issues. Set a foundation conversation that appears the same for everyone but is actually very individualized and confidential.
  2. Have your format ready
    • Purpose—Outline what you want to accomplish and most importantly, what you want for  the employee. Identify, “If I were in their place, would I know how being engaged would help me;  why would I want to do my best;  what would I need to get me moving?”
    • Be flexible—Adjust comments and questions according to the employee’s work style and personality
    • Your observations/thoughts/feelings—Vision and needs of the firm (keep all language in the first person)
  3. Ask employees a series of questions— Start with the team and clients. Layered much like an onion, gradually move deeper and more directly to the employee and/or the particular situation. Share information/your observations, which can be recognition, appreciation, concern, needs. Ask for their thoughts.
  4. A very excellent book and wonderful resource for me is Smart Questions: The Essential Strategy For Successful Managers, by Dorothy Leeds
  5. Ask employee, “How should I help?” What do you think needs to be done? What would you like to see? You are not giving all control in problem or issue resolution to the employee, but you are opening a dialog for communication.
  6. Together decide the next steps, which involve times to meet again to check progress

Mary Dunlap, CFP®
Mary Dunlap Consulting
Pottstown, Pa.

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