What Really Motivates Teams?

There are many theories about the best way to motivate your team: from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation, creating collective and individual goals, and getting rid of the negative paradigms that may be holding your team back.

But there is one thing that everyone agrees on. Motivating your team is essential. Your people may be highly talented and have excellent experience, but if they’re not motivated, they will never achieve their potential.

Motivated people tend to have a positive outlook and are excited about what they’re doing. People who enjoy their jobs and feel engaged with the mission tend to perform significantly better. All influential leaders want their organizations to be full of teams performing at their optimum. That’s why it’s vital your team is motivated and inspired.

The two main types of motivation are extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic is when you use external factors to encourage your team to perform. Pay raises, time off, bonus checks, and even the threat of job loss are all extrinsic motivators.

Intrinsic motivation is internal, having a personal desire to overcome a challenge, produce high-quality work, or work with team members you like and trust. People who are intrinsically motivated get both enjoyment and satisfaction from their job.

Every team member is different, and so is what motivates them. So, getting to know your team, discovering what motivates them, and finding a good mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators are essential. Here are a few steps to motivate your team properly:

1. Get rid of assumptions

Your management style is affected by what you believe. Do you think your team members are lazy and need continuous supervision? Or do you assume they’re happy to do their jobs and are likely to enjoy greater responsibility and freedom? In other words, are you a Theory X or Theory Y manager?

Theory X managers are authoritarian and assume they must supervise constantly. They believe their team members don’t desire or need responsibility and that only extrinsic motivation or threats will produce results.

On the other hand, Theory Y managers assume their team members want responsibility and trust their team to make decisions. They believe that everyone has something valuable to offer.

Your beliefs affect the way you behave toward your team. So, it’s essential to think carefully about how you view your people and to explore what you believe truly motivates them.

2. Reduce Dissatisfaction and Boost Satisfaction

Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg said you could motivate your team by eliminating job dissatisfaction and improving job satisfaction. In his Motivation-Hygiene Theory, Herzberg noted how dissatisfaction might arise from factors such as draconic company policies, overbearing supervision, or lack of job security. You must address these issues, or people won’t be satisfied, and motivating them will prove difficult.

Some sources of job satisfaction could include clear opportunities for advancement, increased responsibility, ongoing training, and personal development, all whilst working with a purpose.

3. Adjust your approach

Remember, your team comprises individuals with unique circumstances, backgrounds, and experiences. Different motivating factors drive each person. When you try to understand each team member, you can tailor your approach to help them stay motivated.

There are many tools and strategies that you can use to customise your approach to motivation – and not all are consistent with one another. So, it’s important to remember that every individual and situation is different. Choose the theory or method that best works for the person, in alignment with your company’s overarching goals.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The key is to explore a number of motivational approaches, such as Sirota’s Three-Factor Theory, McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, to find the one that works best for you and your team.

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