Team Motivation

What Every Team Leader Should Know

80% of team motivation is the result of the quality of the team leader.


"You will never again need to ask “How can I improve motivation in my team?”


I am extremely pleased to inform you that there is a proven formula to improve team motivation and it works every time! (and ……… you will find it here! Free)

Do you want immediate results? If so, by the time you have read every word on this page you will realize that you can get immediate results in your team!


Team Motivation Step 1: Remove Dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction is your team's motivation poison …… you will find that dissatisfied employees in your business will be negative, this negativity will prevent your whole team from reaching its potential.

If your people are engaged in any negative banter or negative discussion it indicates that there is something causing your people to be dissatisfied. It will be very hard to motivate your people until you remove the source of dissatisfaction from your business.



The reason is simply because the things that cause dissatisfaction are different to the things that drive motivation. When you remove something from the workplace that was causing dissatisfaction your people will cease to be dissatisfied, though they are unlikely to become motivated until you adopt some motivational techniques.

If you try to motivate someone who is dissatisfied they will remain dissatisfied until you remove the source of the dissatisfaction, once you remove the source of dissatisfaction your people will be open to your motivation efforts.

Once you eliminate the source of dissatisfaction your employee’s dissatisfaction level will respond quickly (within days) and they will be open and receptive to your motivation techniques.

So, let’s look at the common causes of dissatisfaction that may be harming your team motivation efforts


  • Poor or employee unfriendly company policies
  • Salary
  • The quality of the employees relationship with their
    • Supervisor
    • Subordinates
    • Peers
  • The working conditions (including undesirable behaviors of team mates)
  • Poorly designed processes
  • The quality of supervision
  • The employees perceived status
  • Job Security
  • Non work / personal life
  • Poor communication
  • Poorly managed change



So, what can I do to reduce dissatisfaction?

Well it is quite simple really. Just ask your people what they like least about working in your business. Only ask clarifying questions, do not debate any issue or try to justify anything that your people raise.

Once you have the list of things that are causing your people dissatisfaction you can, with the help of your employees, group them into the following three groups

  1. the things that you can change by yourself
  2. the things you can change if you can convince your next level up manager
  3. the things that are outside your ability to influence


If you are not sure which category an issue fits into then just put it in group 2 and ask your next level up manager where they think it best fits.


Then ………….

Address the group 1 items (the things that you can directly impact, such as the quality of the relationship that you have with your people)

Once you have worked on all of the items in your control you can discuss how to approach the rest of the issues with your next level up manager.

Your people will understand that not everything can be fixed, sometimes all they need to see is a business case or to understand the reason why a system, policy or process cannot be changed.

Now that you have removed dissatisfaction, let’s look at team motivation and how you can motivate your people, today!



Team Motivation

Once you have worked with your people to remove all of the dissatisfaction that is in your control and your ability to influence, you can then start looking to use motivational techniques. Your people will now be receptive to your team motivation techniques.

The first and most important consideration for you is that 80% of team motivation comes from the immediate manager. So, if you want to have motivated people you will need to put a lot of effort into developing your frontline leaders …… and if you are a frontline manager, you are personally capable of changing the level of motivation in your team.

In general you will find that people are motivated by the following things

  • A sense of achievement
  • Recognition or feedback
  • The nature of the work itself
  • An opportunity to take responsibility
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Personal and professional growth
  • Feeling like your work is valuable


The top two, a sense of achievement and recognition, have by far the largest impact on team motivation.



Team Motivation - How to Guide


A sense of achievement

To provide a sense of achievement for your people the first trick is to have an objective that spans a timeline that meets the achievement needs of your people.

For example: Annual timelines are often way to long.

You will find that most people will view daily or weekly objectives as motivational, where others will respond well to monthly targets. (Some people will like daily targets that sum to weekly targets that sum to monthly targets)

The best way to find out what will work best for your people is to ask them, then trial what they asked for. Then after a few days/weeks ask them if there is anything they would like to change. (your staff will appreciate an opportunity to tweak


Project Folk

Project people will often have objectives aligned to their project milestones these often run for longer periods of time. The motivational challenge for a project manager is to break the milestones into smaller pieces or mini milestones. Smaller milestones enable the feeling of achievement to be more frequent.



Once you have goals to celebrate then make sure you celebrate every achievement, with praise, recognition and the occasional reward. (Note: Hi Fives are very motivational)

Now, let’s look at how great leaders give recognition and feedback.



Recognition or feedback (Appreciative, and Associative)

Recognition and feedback can be given formally in a one on one or performance review however it is far more motivational if you give feedback spontaneously and informally.

Giving regular informal positive feedback to your people is the single greatest motivator of performance, giving the right type of feedback also increases the employee’s connection with the business.

Most leaders increase the amount of positive feedback they provide by using more appreciative praise, though what you will find is …… employee motivation responds best when this is supplemented with associative praise.

To discover everything you need to know about appreciative and associative praise and learn the secret to giving inspirational feedback that motivates, click here

Now, let’s find out how you can motivate your people using the nature of work it’s self.

Note: Reward and recognition has the largest impact on team motivation and you will agree recognition is free to use.



The nature of the work itself

Often managers will say “The job is the job” …… and while this is technically true there are relatively few jobs that do not offer any ability to modify the role slightly to suit the individual or individual preferences.

Often in teams there is a need to complete many different tasks. You will find that each of your people will have a different preference for each task. These employee preferences should be considered when allocating tasks.

Generally an increased frequency of preferred tasks will be enough to improve motivation.   


When Recruiting

It is wise to include a consideration of a candidates natural work preferences in your recruitment programs, this will ensure that you are not recruiting people who are a poor fit for the work they will be doing.



An opportunity to take responsibility

Almost all employees would like the opportunity to take responsibility for doing their job well. You will also find that many are keen to take on more responsibility for ensuring

  • Good customer service
  • Customers issues are resolved
  • All of the work gets done
  • Process issues are followed up on
  • Tasks get completed

You can do two things to improve your employee’s opportunity to take responsibility

  • Identify all tasks in your team where your team members hand the task over to someone else to complete. (We call these hand offs) Then see which of these hand offs you could train your people to complete the end to end task.
  • Ask your people how they feel about their opportunity to take responsibility and to identify areas where they could have more opportunity to take responsibility


In addition

A good leader will let their team members each take on additional, small but important tasks, such as

  • Creating the agenda for a team meeting
  • Getting the performance report and writing up the team results on a white board
  • Collecting feedback on quality issues
  • Communicating the team goals
  • Running a five minute fun quiz
  • Creating a team game to engage staff in having fun

Take a look at all of the tasks that you do in a day and let your staff pick which ones they want to take on.



Personal and professional growth

Personal and professional growth opportunities are great individual motivators.

Your people’s personal growth can be through life skills training in areas such as communication or conflict resolution and you can cater for their professional growth through sponsored vocational training and development opportunities.

You will find that it can take considerable time and effort to develop a formal development program. However, you should be able to develop an informal program with minimal effort and enhance it as you go.

What you will find is that each person will have different aspirations some will aspire to do their current job for another five years others will want to be a manager, trainer or a technical expert.

Your challenge is to identify your people’s personal and professional developmental goals and then to provide guidance in how best to meet those goals or to provide honest feedback on why these goals cannot be met.



Opportunities for Advancement

Some of your people will have career aspirations and will be motivated by the opportunity to develop their skills or capabilities. These people will be motivated by their perception that there are opportunities for career progression within your organization.

Your employees will, in general, be motivated if they

  • understand the recruitment and selection process for career opportunities within your business
  • understand the gaps in their capabilities, where they need to develop further if they wish to progress.

Providing opportunities for advancement is mandatory if you wish to attract and retain good talent in your business. Before your people can take opportunities to advance you will need to provide them with opportunities for development.

Not all of your people will want to be leaders nor will they want to progress.

You will find that most of your people will want to learn something new and their development needs could be as simple as learning more about what the person next to them is does.

In small businesses it can be hard to provide people with opportunities.



Team Motivation, Further reading


Other pages that will help you to understand team motivation further and to help you to build a High Performing Team

  1. MBWA - A strategic influential approach
  2. Discovering leadership skills
  3. Leading rapid culture change


Return from team motivation to our Supervision and Team Leadership home page





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