One of my favorite things about a new year is that I get to set new and challenging goals. This year, for example, I’ve made the decision to get better at motivating my team. It’s something that I’ve been working at for a couple of years now, but it’s taking center stage in 2020.
Motivating a team is easier said than done. Each employee has her own reasons for doing things, and what fans one person’s flame may not work for another. After some trial and error, however, I feel I finally know how I can help motivate my team in 2020.
Scrap the annual performance review.
Although the status quo throughout the 20th century, performance reviews may have been influenced by the Industrial Revolution’s focus on worker productivity. Now that we’ve entered the third decade of the 21st century, this is truly an antiquated approach to motivating a team.
To be honest, I can’t stand them. You’re probably in the same boat. Worse, employees dread them. Performance reviews are time-consuming and costly, and several studies have shown that they’re ineffective.
Back in 2015, researchers from Kansas State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and Texas A&M University found that both negative and positive feedback offered during annual performance reviews was misunderstood and failed to motivate. Additionally, more recent research from McKinseydiscovered that even “high performing employees can be demoralized by rigid or arbitrary goals.”
Ditch this outdated practice, and offer feedback throughout the year. “Ideally, conversations between managers and employees occur when projects finish, milestones are reached, challenges pop up, and so forth — allowing people to solve problems in current performance while also developing skills for the future,” write Peter Capelli and Anna Tavis in Harvard Business Review. “At most companies, managers take the lead in setting near-term goals, and employees drive career conversations throughout the year.”
Additionally, McKinsey suggests that in lieu of performance reviews, establish effective employee goals by involving employees in the goal-setting process. This guarantees you’re aligning their individual goals with business objectives and adapting the goals in real time, keeping them relevant.
Grant autonomy and flexibility.
This should be the year that you finally give up micromanagement. Not only is it one of the most common complaints employees have about their leaders, but it’s also a surefire way to kill motivation, stall creativity, and decrease job satisfaction.
Instead, encourage ownership by granting your team autonomy. As my co-founder John Rampton explains, this is when you allow “your team to work how they prefer as long as they’re getting their work done. It’s also about giving up some control yourself and trusting that your team will get the job done.” In turn, this builds trust and drives employee motivation.
What’s more, consider easing up on when and where your team works. Flexible schedules and remote working opportunities allow team members to work at the hours and locations where they’re most productive. Because this helps them achieve work-life balance, they’re often more engaged and productive.
Make your business a great place to work.
Does this mean that you have to construct an elaborate campus with lots of unique perks, like those found in Silicon Valley? Most of the motivational speakers that I’m around actually warn me that a complete focus on this can make a company be for of a “fun only” place to work and not truly an enjoyable productive atmosphere.
For starters, create a friendly and collaborative work environment. There’s a multitude of ways to do this. I would focus on developing an environment where you show appreciation and recognition for your team’s hard work — simple thank-you notes, tangible awards, and team milestone celebrations often suffice. Encourage bonding experiences through team-building exercises and outings. And never tolerate toxic behavior, like bullying or harassment.
Beyond that, make sure that your teammates have all of the resources and equipment they need to do their jobs. You should also make their daily lives better with ergonomic furniture, plants, artwork, or a redesigned layout that better meets their different needs throughout the day. Encourage your team members to personalize their workspaces, keep their areas clean, and use headphones if they’re distracted by background noise.
Give your team room to grow.
Want to drain all of the motivation out of your team? Make people feel like they’ll be permanently stuck in a dead-end job. That’s why it’s imperative to offer your team plenty of opportunities to grow. In fact, according to Gallup, 87% of Millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important in a job.
You can provide a sense of growth by creating growth plans with them, offering formal training opportunities, launching a mentor program, and working with employees to develop their soft skills. It could even be as simple as assigning them new and challenging work that pushes them outside their comfort zone.
Prioritize time with each team member.
Finally, make this the year that you stop saying you don’t have time for your team. Instead, prioritize time with each employee. You probably think you don’t have the space in your schedule. During a break, walk around the office to check in with your team. Make one-on-ones a regular part of your routine. Have lunch with employees rather than hide in your office. When you’re not on calls or in meetings, make a point to work in the trenches with them.
When you prioritize time with each team member, it creates a more positive work environment and shows people that you genuinely care. More importantly, it lets you get to know your teammates better and find out what they want — both of which can be used to identify ways to motivate them.
When you have a highly motivated team, your workforce will be something to be reckoned with. But you can only achieve these benefits if you’re willing to put in the time and effort this year and beyond.