Do you have a team motivation problem?

team motivation lazy cat

As leaders, most of us like to think that our teams are motivated. However, it’s difficult to ask people directly if they’re motivated. Some people will say yes, just because they feel it may be a bad career move to say no. Some leaders overlook team motivation issues because they are subjective and not always obvious. In this post, we’re going to look at positive signs of team motivation. These are behavioural indicators that give you a sense that your team really cares about the work and is striving to achieve.

If you can see these traits in your team members, the chances are you’re onto a good thing. If not, it might be time to consider the possibility that your team members aren’t motivated.

1. Your team members go over and above

An obvious sign of team motivation is when team members put in more than the minimum effort. Sometimes they’ll put in more hours to make sure the quality of their work is higher. They might work a longer day to make sure they hit a deadline. They might spend time fine tuning a deliverable instead of just sending it as soon as they’re done.

Going over and above isn’t about working more hours. It’s about putting in more effort than the minimum required. This stems from having pride in the work you do.

2. Your team members hold each other accountable

Team motivation is evident when your team members hold each other to high standards. They know together they can do great work, so they expect a high standard from each person. In these situations, open dialogue is common and people are often able to accept feedback.

Teams that hold each other accountable feel comfortable raising issues and working together to resolve them. They understand that they need the team to perform well in order to succeed themselves.

In a previous post I wrote about the importance of external pressure for team performance. If your team members hold each other accountable, you don’t need external pressure so much, because the pressure comes from within.

Thoughtful Leader Accountability guide

3. Your team members look to improve

Do you have team members that study or learn in their own time, outside of their job? What about team members who try to introduce new methods, technologies or processes into the team? Team members who undertake external networking to meet people in their industry?

A thirst for improvement is a sure sign of team motivation. Team members who bring something to the table and look to continuously improve are gold. They are what will keep your team from slipping into a “just good enough” mentality and falling behind.

4. Your team members are uncomfortable with failure

I’ve worked in a number of organisations where failure had started to be considered normal. “That’s just how it is here”, people would say. These people had become comfortable with a mediocre job, or something going wrong.

Another sign of team motivation appears when your team are annoyed and frustrated by failure. The best teams will learn from failure and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

When things go wrong for your team, what happens? Do people slump their shoulders and sigh? Throw up their hands helplessly? Or do they get fired up because they know they could have done better?

5. Your team members believe that if they try hard, they will succeed

The willingness to accomplish challenging goals is another hallmark of strong team motivation. Some teams will instantly admit defeat when faced with a challenge. “We can’t deliver it by then. We’ll have to push the deadline back.”

Other teams will try to find a way to succeed, even if it’s hard. When teams have become accustomed to failure, you will notice that giving up is second nature. If your team has been accustomed to trying and failing for so long that it hurts, it’s natural to admit defeat early. Because trying and failing hurts more than not trying at all.

Motivated teams will push for hard deadlines and try to make it work. They know that the greatest rewards and satisfaction comes from achieving a challenging goal.

Did you notice any of the characteristics above in your team members? Or is your team feeling a little flat, just going through the motions?

If you don’t notice many positive signs of team motivation, it might be time to look closer at your team members and the way your team operates. For ideas to improve team motivation, take a look at this post on creating a bright future for your team.

It’s not easy to motivate a team, and it is a never-ending journey. So you’d better start right now.

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