You know what it’s like. You walk through the office and you can see your team rushing to look busy even though they seem to be cruising. The sales figures are bearable but could be better and no-one seems to care. You get a little angry and think, “If they don’t fire up, I’m gunna fire them!!”

You are not alone with this kind of situation – it happens more often than you think.

It is a law of physics regarding entropy (the second law of thermodynamics actually). Essentially, energy has to be applied to keep the work going. Without the application of additional energy, a moving body will ultimately stop. To apply energy, the team has to be motivated. Zig Ziglar famously quoted, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing... that's why I recommend it daily.”

Why Motivate Your Team?

We need some kind of motivation on a daily basis to get the work done to achieve our goals. That doesn’t mean you have to run around all day firing up the troops but some kind of motivational process is required. I have heard many managers say, “But that takes a lot of effort and distracts me from my real job!” The reality is this is a significant part of your job! Keeping the team motivated contributes significantly to the team culture.

Part of what we need to do is build an Employer of Choice work environment. Motivation is attractive. People want to work for an organisation that helps them achieve their personal goals (be they financial, social or career oriented). Building this team culture of motivation will keep your best employees. That alone is a cost saving as recruitment and staff turnover has a severe impact on the bottom line.

What this will also do is build momentum. You will find that if you have a motivated team, you won’t need to spend as much time motivating them. They will start to motivate each other and all you will need to do is keep the ball rolling. This momentum also contributes to your corporate culture. It builds a “that's how things are done around here” ethos. You will find that the team members will start to not tolerate poor performance as well.

So how do you think it would feel to work for a fired up and supportive team? You would find that absenteeism reduces, recruitment expenses are reduced as team members refer their friends or prospects come to you directly and all of a sudden, team members are surprising themselves with the results they are achieving. Success attracts further success as well as a commitment to excellence!

What Motivates Your Team?

In life, there are only two things that will motivate a person – Pleasure or Pain. Anthony Robbins states that 80% of people are motivated by pain leaving 20% motivated by pleasure. Of the two, pleasure is a more sustainable motivator. To be motivated by Pain is to want to move away from something where Pleasure is a movement towards motivation. Moving away has a limit but towards does not. For example, if your motivation is “I don't want to be less than 80% of target” once you get to 80% you are satisfied. 85% does not satisfy that motivation any more than 80% does. Compare that to being motivated by “I want at least 80% of target”. 80% satisfies the motivation but 85% continues it.

Make sure the motivation you set for your team is Pleasure-based. This would mean that it is expressed in a positive manner.

What De-motivates

We humans are funny creatures. Even in the workplace one of the things we crave the most is attention and confirmation we are on the right track. So the easiest way to demotivate us is to starve us of this. Too often targets and objectives are set at the start of the year, communicated to the team and then that is it. Meanwhile the team members are operating in a vacuum. They don't know how things are going for themselves, their team or the company.

Clients of mine have often said that they are managed mushroom-style – kept in the dark and fed bull…... Miscommunication is worse than no communication. So if you want to demotivate the team, tell them nothing (or worse tell them lies), don't let them know if you care about them or not, keep them in isolation and take them and their efforts for granted.

How to keep the team motivated

As you would expect, one of the best ways to motivate the team is to communicate with them. It needs to be meaningful communication though. Many of us have been to those meetings that have no valuable information, everyone hates it and we are just going to keep the boss happy. So communicate information of value.

The best way to motivate your team is to be authentic. If you are genuine in how you deal with them, you will earn a great deal more respect and loyalty.

Money is a good motivator, but is not the best motivator. Several pieces of research have shown that the positive impact of a pay rise lasts only four to six weeks. Commissions are a little different and an increasing commission rate on increasing sales works well, but money alone is not enough.

Continuing education, training and support show your team that you believe in them and are working towards the mutual success of them and you.

Frequently, the best motivation is the “surprises” - unexpected events or items that happen out of the blue. They can be as simple as movie tickets, words of praise, team dinner, book voucher, or anything that you can think of. Awarded not based on performance, but based on other reasons that you wish to encourage. Best customer recovery, most creative idea (regardless of whether it works or not), best comment when answering the phone or even best random award – whatever it is you think of. This will show that all of your members can earn rewards at any time for anything – not just the high performers who may get sales commissions anyway.

Individuals are motivated differently. One of the best things you can do is ask individuals what motivates them. Not only will it tell you how to motivate them, it will also give you ideas for others in your team. When you set KPIs have the individual responsible for them assist you in setting the reward for it. That will increase their commitment to the KPI as they are setting their own motivational goals.

The key thing is communication. If you continue to communicate with your team, let them know what you want them to be achieving, how they are tracking, what issues have arisen, how much you value them, their efforts and their contribution, you are well on your way to building a culture of excellence and a motivated team.

Top Tips to Stay Motivated

  • Motivate towards pleasure not away from pain
  • Express motivation in positive, toward terms
  • Customise the motivation to the individual
  • Visualise how you would feel having reached your goal
  • Enrol others in your goal/vision
  • Lavish your team with attention
  • Provide unexpected rewards
  • Words of praise work better than a raise
Author's Bio: 

About the Author:

Warwick Merry is the Get More Guy ( - a motivational speaker and trade show specialist. A professional speaker, consultant, coach and trainer renowned for his high-energy presentations and seminars, he ignites an inexhaustible passion to Get More out of life.

Visit his site to sign up for his Get More Goer - weekly thought of inspiration and visit for your free CD on how to double your exhibiting and sales return.