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The Answer is 42

9 ways to motivate your team - and using money isn't one of them.
by Sam Sykes MD at BAY42
21st July 2014

The absolute best way to get people to work harder, be more invested and generally be happier is just to pay them more money and give them a bonus if they do well, right?

Well, in reality the answer is probably closer to the exact opposite.

Let me ask you this, what motivated you to read this article? Was it because you thought you may get a pay increase for being more informed? Or was it because you wanted to achieve something more, maybe increase your chances of having more responsibility or get better result for from your team and gain recognition?

Often we are motivated to do things because the enjoyment of an activity, or development of a skill is solely for the satisfaction of learning and having fun. Taking art classes, Cycling that extra mile, getting that golf stroke perfect. These are all activities that many people earn a good living from. As an amateur, well, you will spend more time and money on getting better at these things than you will ever earn and yet we are still happily carry on doing them. In fact these activities make you happier than the ones we are paid to do.

When you look at it this way it makes no sense at all to assume that getting paid to do something would make us work harder at it ...

Many studies* have shown that not only does money not (in general) motivate people but it can in fact lead to a level of demotivation. They have gone on to show that what really motivates people are things such as Responsibility, Autonomy, Challenge, Mastery and Recognition. More and more people want these in order to make them feel happier and more satisfied at work (or anywhere else for that matter).

In essence these gifts are the key to motivating your team both individually and collectively. It may seem at first that giving these things to your team is unrealistic with the restrictions placed on you by the type of work that you do or the team that you have. However in reality even small changes or can make the difference.

So I thought I would start by giving you 9 ideas of simple changes you can make to get your team closer to giving them what they actually want from their job and getting you one step closer to a happy motivated and productive team.

  1. Time isn't money, its freedom.

    Time is precious and having the ability to use our time to do with as we please is an incredibly powerful motivator. We can't all enjoy our jobs and so given the choice between having more time to do what we actually love or earning an extra few quid, we'll choose former.

    In minimum wage hourly paid roles you will find that, given the choice of staying to the end of the shift (earning more money) or going home early (but earning less money) the majority of people will, on a regular basis, choose to leave early. Not every day because frankly people need to eat but it's fantastic as an intermittent motivator and an even better way to keep up moral.

    In salary or office based roles you will see that team members will achieve the same a level of workload in a shorter period of time if given the opportunity to leave early or arrive later. So allow them some freedom in their hours, have go home early or lie in days. Lastly if you see them regularly putting in extra hours unpaid, be sure to give them back occasionally.

  2. If you love them Set them Free!

    Everyone is different; some people are more productive at night some, early in the morning. Some prefer to work in silence and other need to hubbub of the office. It would be crazy to think that given how diverse the human population is that the ideal working situation for everyone would be 9-5 in an office surrounded by other people.

    In a perfect world you would allow people not only to choose their own working hours, but their work location too. However, It's more than likely that your teams working environment is bound by the nature of the role or the business. So flexi time or working from home simply may not be practical. However there are other ways of giving flexibility.

    Some Examples; if you can let them go home early, allow the team to choose who goes rather than deciding yourself. Try and find other workspaces in the office so that people can have a change of environment. Talk to your team find out which hours are actually best for the team. Maybe working shifts is not only better for the team but more practical for the workload too.

  3. It doesn't cost you anything to say thank you.

    It's an oldie but a goody! Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people around us. Moreover, just as saying and receiving a thank you makes us feel better, receiving no thanks at all can be much more detrimental and can lead to feelings of resentment and disharmony in the team.

  4. Show them you care

    Talk to your team and listen. In the day-to-day run of the mill it's easy to forget that your people need to feel like someone has noticed them. Don't wait for review time to ask them how they are or what makes them tick. If you are team leader then your team are a part of your workload, make time for a coffee chat or a mentoring 1 to1 whichever suits you team and management style.

  5. Get them involved

    Your team will be much more emotionally invested in both day to day activities and business requirements if they are involved in the process that came to pivotal decision making points. We're not talking all out democracy here but simply put, they are much more likely to go along with something if they were a part of the decision making process.

  6. Listen to them and then do something about it.

    Managing a team is no place for lip service. If you say you are going to do something, no matter how small, then do it. Nothing looses trust or respect and de-motivates faster than not following through on your words.

  7. Get them talking and bonding.

    Teams work at their best when they know, trust, like and understand each other. It may sound like a cliché but a good (I repeat good) team-building day will do wonders for your teams bonding and camaraderie, nothing brings together a team like adversity. Periods of stress or difficulty will bring out the best and worst traits in all of us, once we've seen them it is much easier to overcome them in ourselves and understand them in others. If the thought of a full blown team building weekend is a little too much, maybe just start small, take them all out for a drink once a month or make sure you all leave work to have lunch together once a week. Encourage them to chat and have fun throughout the workday and encourage them to help each other when other team members struggle.

  8. Beware of Boredom

    No one likes to be bored, and many of us will leave a boring job no matter how much we are paid. Often if an employee is asking for more money the likelihood is that they are suffering from feeling undervalued, there can be many causes for this including fear of failure, stress or lack of gratitude, however the most common is surprisingly boredom.

    High levels of boredom can often lead to an unconscious frustration over their lack of personal development, irritation with ineffective processes (over which you may not have any control) or resentment to other employees. If someone is feeling challenged and intellectually fulfilled on a daily basis then they are much more likely to focus on the positive and channel their energy into progression rather than what's going wrong around them.

  9. Have some FUN!

    Nothing makes the day go quicker than having a laugh! Try to build a jovial environment where the different personalities in the group can express themselves. Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is Free!

*An employee engagement study conducted in 2012 "Bringing Out the Best in Employees", BSR Issue 1 2012. Research by Julian Birkinshaw, Vyla Rollins and Stefano Turconi.

New Directions in Goal Setting Theor - Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham

Neural basis of the undermining effect of monetary reward on intrinsic motivation, Murayama and Matsumoto

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