Motivation Is Essential for a High Performance Work Team

Motivation Is Essential for a High Performance Work Team

Without motivation nothing productive happens, including getting out of bed in the morning.

In the workplace, motivation is the leadership action that starts the productivity process that results in Individual and Team goals being achieved.

In a coaching session, a Team Leader asked me how he should deal with a problem he was having with a Team Member. The Problem: The Team Member works as a loader, assembling merchandise and loading it onto a delivery truck. At the beginning of every work day the Team Member would assemble his first pallet of merchandise but would not load it onto the truck until he had tracked down the Team Leader and had him inspect the pallet.

I asked the Team Leader if the reason the Team Member did this was because he needed more training? He replied no, that the Team Member was the best loader on the Team. I then asked him how the Team Member reacted after the Team Leader told him his work was fine. After thinking about it for a moment, he replied the Team Member actually seemed to beam and puff up. I asked did he bother the Team Leader for the rest of the day? The answer: no. And how was his production compared to the rest of the Team? The answer: he was the most productive member of the Team.

I then told the Team Leader he didn’t have a problem he needed to solve. Here is a Team Member that, unlike most Team Members, was abundantly clear about what he needed to motivate him to be a High Performing Team Member: a little Attention from the Team Leader at the beginning of the day. And when he got that 5 minutes of Attention, the Team Member was High Performing for the entire day. So I said he should stop whining about it and just give it to him! In fact, I suggested he make it a part of his daily ritual to be in front of the Loader when he finished his first pallet to give him the praise he needed instead of wasting time having the Loader track him down. After all, praise works much better as a motivator when the person who needs it doesn’t have to beg for it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every member of a Team was as transparent about the motivation they needed as the Loader. But they are not. And its the Team Leader’s job to find out what does motivate each Team Member – if they want a High Performance Work Team. And if they don’t want that then why be a Team Leader?

Why Do Most Teams Need Motivation?

Unfortunately, as I have discovered through their participation in my coaching program, many Team Leaders erroneously believe, since they are self-motivated, all their Team Members are also self-motivated or intrinsically motivated. This belief is enforced by the fact Core Employee members of the Team are self-motivated and will perform at a high level without outside motivation. However, Team Leaders forget two important facts about their Teams:

  1. 80% of the Team Members are not Core Employees, therefore, are not self-motivated/intrinsically motivated and could perform significantly better if they were properly motivated and
  2. 20% of the Team Members are the Working Dead and are putting in only enough effort to keep their job. This group needs to be replaced since any effort by a Team Leader at motivation will be wasted effort.

The success of any business is based on how motivated its employees are. Hardworking and satisfied Team Members lead to success. or the Team Leaders have not been trained in how to properly motivate individual Team Members, so they don’t actively attempt to motivate

Since motivation influences productivity, Team Leaders not only need to realize their is a need for them to provide motivation to 80% of their Team need to understand what motivates Team Members to reach peak performance. The Team Leader (motivator) wants to influence the factors that motivate Team Members to higher levels of productivity.

It is not an easy task to increase Team Members’ motivation because Team Members respond in different ways to their jobs and their organization’s practices. There’s no secret sauce to apply for success.

But Team Member motivation boils down to one basic idea: Find out what each Team Member needs (not wants) and find a way to enable them to earn it (don’t just give it to them!). And if that sounds to difficult the Team Leader needs to find another position.

Some Motivational Techniques that Satisfy Team Members Are;

Providing compliments. Compliments like “job well done” go a long way.

Creating job-related incentives. Create programs that reward Team Members for work tied directly to achieving the Company’s goals. (Save a Dollar, Pay Out a Dime).

Peer recognition. Every Team Member wants their Team Mates to respect them (unless its one of the Working Dead! BTW: once a Team Leader knows who they are why the hell are they still on the Team? The fact that they are sends a terrible message about lack of accountability). To help Team Members gain peer respect, publicly acknowledge a Team Member’s achievements.

Expectancy: The belief effort will lead to certain outcomes (i.e. work hard get recognized). Team Members choose among behaviors because they anticipate that certain behaviors will lead to a desired outcome (recognition) and other behaviors will lead to undesirable outcomes (being called out for not being accountable to the Team).

Rewards: Team Members do what gets rewarded! Team Members who exceed expectations should be rewarded. It will motivate them do more of the same. Team Members must associate the reward with the behavior – the Team Member must know the specific behavior/action that got rewarded. A general “good job” does not suffice. The reward should come as quickly as possible after the behavior and can be almost anything desired by the Team Member.

Some of the most powerful rewards are symbolic (a certificate when a Team Member attends a workshop), things that cost very little but mean a lot to the people who get them.

Fairness: A fair situation is one in which Team Members with similar inputs experience similar outcomes. Team Members will compare their rewards with the rewards received by others for their efforts. If they perceive an inequity exists, they will withhold some of their contributions, either consciously or unconsciously, to bring a situation into better balance. For example, if someone thinks he or she is not getting enough pay (output) for his or her work (input), he or she will try to get that pay increased or reduce the amount of work he or she is doing.

Supervisors must manage the perception of fairness in the mind of each Team Member. If a Team member thinks they are not being treated fairly, they cannot be motivated to perform better.

The Bottom Line: Every Team Member, including the Working Dead, can be motivated to become a High Performance Team Member. It’s the Team Leader’s obligation to find what motivates that Team Member and, if possible, provide it.

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