Motivation: The Key to a Successful Team

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Written by Jana Bertheaume
on May 15, 2014

Editor’s note: If you are a new manager motivating your team can be a hard task that everyone has an opinion on. This is my point of view on how to motivate your team.

There’s always tomorrow

“Tomorrow I’m going to start eating better.” “Tomorrow I’m going to start exercising.” “Tomorrow I’m going to write that blog.” “Tomorrow…” Sometimes it’s difficult to find the motivation to do things that aren’t exactly easy, even if we know they should be done.

Motivation is a topic that we read about, talk about, and try to figure out how to put into practice during our daily lives. So when someone recently suggested that I write a blog on motivation, I thought, “I can do this, I have been motivating teams for most of my career!” (At least I hope I have been). I’ve read several books and countless articles on motivation, and have been able to put bits of pieces of what I’ve learned into practice.

Teal yoga mat as motivation for excersize

Teal Yoga Mat. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Who hasn’t written a motivational book?

I also quickly realized that motivation is a huge topic. When I started this blog, I did a search on Amazon for motivational books… 42,841 books came up. In case you don’t find what you’re looking for in the first 42,841 results, you can also search “inspirational books” and “motivational books for women” as separate searches. There is obviously plenty of information out there that could make most of our heads swim, so for the purpose of this blog, I would like to concentrate on how you can motivate your team members.

I am not a racecar fan at all, but I came across this quote from Mario Andretti and it has stuck with me for a long time: “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal, a commitment to excellence, that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” Doing the things we like is easy – and often times we do them without even thinking too much about them. It’s the more difficult situations or problems that we often struggle with; the ones that take commitment and determination. These are also typically the ones that mean the most, and when they are accomplished, they give us the greatest satisfaction.

We are individuals

As managers, we try to find that magic “one solution fixes all” to motivate our teams. But like fast weight loss or get rich quick ideas, they usually end in very short term results or don’t work at all. It’s a common thought that a team working on the same project should all be motivated by the same thing. However, we forget that a team is made up of individuals, and all individuals are unique.

Remember that desire, determination and commitment are the components to providing the greatest results… so to motivate team members, you have to understand what those factors are for each person.
The most successful managers understand that highly motivated teams are the most productive and successful. To develop those successfully motivated teams, you (as a manager) need to know each individual. You should be able to answer the following questions about every team member:

  • What is important to them? What gets them out of bed in the morning?
  • What are the things in their lives that they enjoy and make them happy?
  • What is it in their lives that generates excitement?
  • Do they like recognition? If yes, do they like private or public recognition?
  • Do they like incentives (time off, cash prizes, gifts, etc.)?
  • Do they like team or individual incentives?

By understanding what your team members enjoy, you will generate the excitement to get the results you desire — and you will probably have fun doing it.

The last point I would like to make is that a manager needs to be genuine. Show them you are dedicated and care about their success, lead by example, and take the time to get to know your team. Putting these simple things into practice will give you a highly effective and motivated team.

Good luck!