A common question I’m asked, from both service providers and retailers, is how to best motivate team members, especially in these stressful times when everyone’s responsibilities have been stretched. How do you get them to be as passionate about the business as you are?
First, before we get into motivating our team, we need to ensure our team members are in the right place. By this I mean to ensure we’re playing up to their strengths. There are many associates misplaced in roles that do not highlight their innate talents. So for example — if an associate is particularly shy or stand-offish on phone work, this person would be better off in a support role behind the scenes. Yes, you’re thinking this is so obvious — how could we misplace our folks? It’s easy — we’re all too busy to notice until a hic-up happens and it’s then that we realize that particular associate absolutely hates calling a client with bad news or is afraid to follow up with escalations. Also, many times what happens is an associate’s role may morph or grow into other areas of responsibility just to immediately fill a need — not necessarily best matching them up to those additional tasks. There are two ways to remedy this: (1) ensure the associate has the proper additional training, support and tools to do the best job they can, or (2) if there is another role more fitting to their innate strengths, move them over to that position.
Developing an understanding for what drives each of your team members is a huge component to motivation. And it’s not always money on the top of that list — most often a simple thank you or recognition for a job well done speaks volumes. Recognition and a fun, positive company culture ranked the highest on the list of what drives associates. Another area is empowerment: allowing the associate to do their jobs. Not all management styles are empowering; some leaders are unaware of just how much they may be micromanaging their associates. Trust that they were hired for their expertise and allow them to do their job. Granting them ownership of a project fuels their pride and desire to do well.
I’ve had several facility and construction professionals contact me concerning dealing with negative cultures in their work environment. One was at wits end with his boss who actually told the team this is the way the company operates and they all should just be thankful to have jobs in this economy. Now, however true that statement may be — for this “leader” to instill such a strong negative reinforcement is simply not an optimum way to operate if he wants to attract the best from his associates. In fact, he’s perpetuating negativity as opposed to inspiring his department — even if it’s inspiration just limited to that one part of the company he oversees. A leader that shows genuine care for his team will get fully engaged associates. Care comes in many forms: giving credit for their successes, sticking up for them under distress and on occasion taking the blow for their mistake. Overall, what you put into your team, you will get out. The best way to motivate a team is to step back and understand your own approach first and how it affects them. Then, taking the time — beginning this year — to learn more and understand your team members will bring about the motivation naturally.
Grace Daly is an industry leader in retail design, construction and facilities, as well as an avid career coach. She is currently the Executive Director of Retail Facility Conferences for InterFace Conference Group.