7 Essentials to Motivate Your Team

How many times have you wanted to scream “Just do the job I’m paying you to do!” only to contort the muscles in your face to something resembling a smile and calmly hear yourself say something like “Oh. OK, well let’s just go over it again and see what we can do.”

When we talk about motivating our people and inspiring them to be the best they can be, what we’re really talking about is some how instilling in them the desire to come to work and put 100% effort into their job.

When I first started out in business I was told by a friend that if any one I employed could do 50% of the job that I thought I could do in that position they were “good workers”. If they could do 80% of the job they were worth keeping at any cost.

Being young and naïve I believed this. All it lead to was sleepless nights and stressful days filled with me taking up the slack and putting out fires.

This went on for a couple of years until I learnt a very simple truth, that is; If they aren’t putting in 100% during working hours and I have to go around behind them doing part of their job anyway, why are they there?

They say that everything starts with your attitude and I’ve found that to certainly be true when it comes to motivating your people. You see, at this stage I didn’t expect anyone to put in 100%, I was always told having your own business or being in management is stressful so I expected sleepless nights. All this just de-motivated me!

If I wasn’t motivated, how could I expect my team to be motivated?

So, at one point there was yet another staff challenge. For the third or fourth night in a row I’d gone to bed at 11, woke up at 1.30, seen the clock roll over to 5.22 before getting back to sleep and then being frightened awake with the alarm again at 6.30.

I lay there for a couple of minutes thinking to myself “this has got to stop”. I made the decision right there and then that if I lost sleep for any reason; the problem got solved the next day!

This was the start of what turned out to be one of the key factors in the motivation of my people and the growth of the company. I sorted myself out first.

Below are some more basics that I’ve used successfully to help motivate any teams I’ve had the privilege of leading. Your teams at work are just like a sports team, if they haven’t got the basics right, nothing else that you do will make any difference.

1/        Sort yourself out – as described above

2/        Let them do their job

The next thing I did was to stop micro managing. I knew the result I wanted when I asked someone to do their job. Instead of having long drawn out meetings or conversations about how to do it I turned that totally around by saying “Here’s the result we’re after, now go to it” of course they got back up where necessary, however, so long as there were no laws broken or moral breaches I became very flexible about how they got the desired result.

The truly amazing thing was that often the method of getting the results were more efficient and thorough than the way I would have done it.

So, get out of their way and let them do their job. Yes they will make mistakes; however, if you let them, they’ll also come up with solutions and learn from them.

3/        Be aware of the language you use and the way you speak to your people

We paint pictures in people’s minds with the words that we use. Negative words result in a negative picture; Positive words get a positive picture. You may have noticed throughout this article I refer to the people you employ as ‘your people’. This is quite deliberate, the words ‘staff’ and ‘employees’ paint a picture of a class system that is antiquated and almost non-existent. It also subconsciously ties them into being an item or of dollar value i.e.: ‘we’ve made some staff redundancies’ or ‘my employees in this area get paid….’

The people you employ are valuable human beings and we should be viewing them that way. This is why I’ve been referring to them as your people.

4/        What to do when you’d prefer that one of your people was someone else’s

Sort it out ASAP. The worst thing you can do for both parties and your company when you have this situation is procrastinate. If you’ve tried everything and one of your people is just not working out, sort it out sooner rather than later. If you don’t, their challenging behavior and attitude will spread. The rest of your people will be thinking “Well, if the boss doesn’t care, why should I”

5/            Reprimand in private, praise in public

Telling someone of in front of others, or ‘shamming’ them, will only de-motivate them further. Don’t do it.

Conversely, praising them in public will have the opposite effect

What ever you say in public about one of your people is what they will live up to.

6/        Use ‘explosions’ sparingly. Save them for something that is ABSOLUTELY necessary

There is nothing more de-motivating than working for someone who runs hot and cold all the time. I remember in my youth working for a guy who would be your best friend one day and explode at you the next. I still, 20 years later have no idea what we did to upset him from one day to the next to cause such a reaction. After a while it just became like the boy who cried wolf and no one took him seriously about anything.

7/            Empower your people

Remember, most people don’t come to work in the morning wanting to make as many mistakes as possible. If they come to you with a challenge or asking ‘what should I do here?’ simply empower them, ask them what they think they should do. When the come up with something (providing its right) say ‘ok do that then’.

You need to be consistent with this. Pretty soon they’ll come to you saying ‘this has happened so I’ve done this, is that ok’ and not long after that they’ll just sort it out and you wont need to be bothered with the small stuff.

I work with a lot of companies from a very broad range of industries and something that they all have in common is that the mood or attitude the people within those companies have is always set by the person at the top. It all starts with you.

Vaughan Tombs


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