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How to Motivate Individuals

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 15 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Meetings Jobs Staff Manage Motivation

It takes time for a manager to get the best out of their team members. Trusting relationships have to be built from the foundations up, and a manager is far more likely to gain the willing co-operation of their staff if they have a sound relationship with them.

If a manager looks for opportunities to build mutual respect and gives individuals support when they need it, their staff are more likely to respond favourably to their requests for co-operation. The best managers get to know team members and colleagues on a personal level, perhaps during informal meetings or on coffee breaks, and find out what interests they have outside their work.

People are motivated to do what they like doing and not necessarily what a manager wants them to do. The trick is to identify what is important to members of staff and then to engage their interest by explaining how they will gain personally from a project. For instance, if an individual’s key motivation is money, emphasise how a new project will boost company profits and increase the likelihood of better annual pay increases. If job security is a bigger motivation, emphasise the amount of additional work the company can secure if it excels with a new project.

Keep Individuals Informed

Keep employees informed about developments, if individuals can see the bigger picture it can demonstrate how important their contribution is to the eventual outcome. It can inspire and motivate individuals to know their efforts will have an effect on team morale, sales, profits, productivity and customer loyalty.

Staff can be motivated by having a say in decision making, so when a manager talks to an employee about how certain jobs can be done, he should view it as an exercise in joint problem solving. If there are different views, hold brainstorming meetings to bring ideas together, agree on a goal and how to achieve it. During these meetings, it is vital that the employee is allowed to influence the process, as then the employee will be just as committed to the outcome as the manager is.

Staffing certain jobs can be particularly difficult, and it is especially important with these unpopular tasks to cement people’s interest by emphasising what they have to gain. To check how committed an individual is to the task, ask a closed question that calls for a definitive answer. For instance, ask if an individual is happy to do what has been agreed. Look for a clear-cut “yes” in response and if there are still doubts, work to resolve them.

Provide Resources

It is not enough for an employee to be willing to do a task – they have to be able to do it as well. It is up to the manager to provide the necessary resources, whether this means delegating authority, providing a budget, training or administrative support. Hold regular meetings to get updates on progress and if time becomes an issue, work with the individual to change priorities, reassign tasks and consider staffing levels for the project.

Many managers employ the push/pull style to manage and motivate staff. The push style involves telling people what to do and is effective when an individual’s confidence and competence is low, as they will feel more secure when told what to do. The pull style involves more meetings to ask team members leading questions that encourage them to take the initiative and motivate them to make their own decisions. Use the push style to manage inexperienced individuals and move to the pull style as they develop.

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