Give your team a motivational makeover
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Want your staff to run like a well-oiled machine on that new project? The key to making that happen is to whip up some good old-fashioned group enthusiasm. You need to stress the importance of true team spirit, so that your workers help each other help your organization.
The result: each person is motivated to work to the best of their ability at the exact same time — and everyone enjoys doing so. Research is here to help you get your group enthusiastically in sync. Try these scientifically-tested tips.
Encourage strong peer relationships.
A study from the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business found that when members of a team like and want to benefit each other, they stick a tough task out to the end, and work as hard as necessary so that everyone achieves mutual success.
As a manager, you can create the right atmosphere for this kind of coordinated effort by stressing the fact that showing concern for a co-worker will be noticed and appreciated, first of all.
More helpful ideas: pair up employees whom you know are professionally friendly to start with; also, watch for any interpersonal conflicts, and nip them in the bud as early in a project as possible. And here's a novel idea: hold a weekly "praise meeting."
Each Friday, gather your group together to touch base on progress — as part of the discussion, ask each person to share an anecdote about a team member's excellent effort over the past five days. This kind of peer support works wonders in terms of creating positive bonds.
Give fast feedback.
Researchers from the University of Alberta found that the quicker a worker anticipates getting a verdict on his or her performance, the better job he or she tends to do. This may be because people tend to improve when they think they may imminently disappoint someone — namely, the other members of their work group.
Not to say you should take advantage of your workers' evaluation worries in any way, but by providing fast feedback, you can either ease a worker's concern that he or she isn't pulling their weight, or, if something needs to be perfected, you can encourage the whole team to rally around your worker, and solve the issue together.
Suggest to your team that they ask each other, "Will we hit this goal?", rather than to declaratively tell each other, "We WILL hit this goal." It sounds counterintuitive, but research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign indicates that introducing the possibility that you might not achieve what you want automatically, and subconsciously, fires up your desire to rise to a challenge.
Your staff members will start immediately thinking of new ways to arrive at that group accomplishment, and can offer suggestions to each other on how to proceed.
Skip the donut run.
Intriguing research from the University of Montreal found that eating a snack packed with saturated fat directly and adversely affects the mesolimbic dopamine system in our brains —that's the pathway that controls motivation.
To keep your group energized and on track, provide a "brain break" consisting of healthy food like fruit instead.
Pace things properly.
Researchers from the University of Winnipeg report that motivation will most likely flag within your group halfway through your project. To stop an enthusiasm drain, encourage your team to think of how great accomplishing your end result will be at the beginning of their work — they can envision bringing more money into your company, for example.
This is called "promotion motivation." Then, right before project midpoint, ask your group members to switch their thinking to "prevention motivation" — they should now focus on the responsibilities they need to cover in order to avoid any negative outcomes.
This will help them push the project over the finish line, error-free. All that's left to do? Celebrate as a group for a job well-done!
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