We all know the carrot and stick method and a number of us (depending on your age) have endured this since early childhood. Sometimes this method works well, yet in today’s world it has become quite outdated and can in fact inhibit creativity.
Best-selling author on the subject of motivation, Daniel Pink, calls it, “If you do….. then you will get…” He recounts a great story where he asks different groups to carry out a task that requires some creative thinking to solve the problem. When groups were incentivised with money to be the first to finish, the average finish time for the task actually was slower than those that weren’t incentivised.
So it looks like the carrot and stick is outdated, so what can you do to motivate your team?
There have been many books written on this subject, but here are a few of my favourites plus a few ideas I have come across:
• Just ask! – We know that everyone is motivated differently, so why not ask each team member. You may be surprised at the response – we have done this a few times and the reply often is (sadly) – “I’d just like more feedback about how I am doing.” This is an easy one to implement and doesn’t cost a thing.
• Be there for your team and accessible – Spend time with your team at the frontline, observe how they are doing, ask questions, get to know them. Great leaders are the team’s mentor, sharing their experience and tips. However, as the old saying goes “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
• Celebrate – make time to celebrate individual team members. It could be their birthday, anniversary of when they started, or something else they have succeeded at. Don’t treat it as a carrot reward, but because you care about them.
• Encourage new ideas – when a team member has an idea hear them out, don’t immediately quash it. Encourage them to go with it and see where it goes, if it works great, if not there’s always next time. Often your frontline team have great ideas, you just need to encourage them to get them out.
• Gently push them to learn more – some staff will be self-motivated to learn, they’ll study to improve, whereas some staff won’t. You want your team to be challenged and growing all the time so encourage them to work on themselves. Take them to events, or help them find training courses that they want to attend. Most millennials are motivated by learning new things as this will help their career.
• Let them know how they are making a difference – when staff feel they are part of something a bit bigger than just the job they do, most have a sense of wow I am helping other people. This big picture and where they fit in is critical if you want your staff feeling it’s more than just a job.
I’ll finish with one of Richard Branson’s great quotes about managing and motivating a team – “Train them so well that they can leave, treat them so well that they won’t want to.”