The Secrets of Team Motivation

Published On: December 15, 20203.7 min read

By Doron Klemer, Align Advisor

How much would someone have to pay you to quit your job? 

That may sound like a strange question, but it’s one that reveals how motivated you are to do what you do.

Online shoe retailer Zappos famously posed this question to employees early in their career: ‘The Offer’ (as it is known within the company) comes during initial training and involves a cash payment of thousands of dollars to quit before they’ve officially begun work. The amount of the payment had to be raised when it was felt not enough people were taking Zappos up on the offer.

CEO Tony Hsieh had seemingly hit on a way to ensure that anyone working for the company was there for more than just a paycheck: here are some other ways to boost team motivation and make sure your employees are ready to give their all every day at work.

Motivation is about more than just a paycheck

Behavioral economist Uri Gneezy ran an experiment to see whether parents would pick their children up from daycare on time if they were fined for being late. The surprising result was that parents left their kids later more often when they had to pay for it: they had been picking them up on time because they believed in what the daycare was doing.

Money can be a motivator, but it’s not the only one, or even the best one. Find ways to learn about what really motivates your team by holding regular 1:1 Weekly Huddles, sending out scheduled eNPS surveys, and having a simple suggestions box.

Does your team know your company’s strategy, values, and beliefs?

Stop any worker on your team right now and ask them where the company wants to be in a year, in five years, in twenty-five years. How about what your organization’s core values are. Can they answer?

According to Gallup, “less than half of employees strongly agree that they know what their company stands for and what makes it different.” Knowing where your company is headed, and why, is key to ensuring buy-in from your workers and will make them more engaged and productive. 

Marketing research has introduced us to the ‘Rule of 7’ – that a marketing message needs to be seen or heard seven times before action is considered. How often is your team exposed to your company’s core values and long-term strategy? Make them easily accessible, and refer to them frequently, to bring them to life in your organization.

Show your team their work really matters

office in brazilIn Terry Gilliam’s beautifully bleak 1985 movie ‘Brazil,’ Jonathan Pryce’s protagonist works in bleak confinement, fighting with an unseen coworker over half a desk and barely ever seeing a colleague. His literal isolation is a metaphor for everyone who ever felt detached from their workplace, and that their work was being sent out into a void. You may be familiar with the consequences: Pryce spends most of his working life daydreaming.

We know that everyone needs measurable metrics, but workers need to know how those targets connect to the company’s progress as a whole. Otherwise, team motivation quickly wanes. Having a system to link individuals’ work to bigger projects, and those bigger projects to long-term company goals, gives everyone from front-line workers to heads of department a line of sight to the ultimate destination.

Keep meetings short and relevant (and interesting!)

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter,” wrote Mark Twain, “so I wrote a long one instead.”

The same can be said for meetings: a little preparation can go a long way in keeping them manageable. Holding inefficient meetings can have wide-ranging and damaging impacts on a company, as the Harvard Business Review reports here

Taking a few minutes to prepare for a meeting ensures that participants don’t ramble on and lose focus. Including motivational quotes (Twain optional) and even music to kick meetings off can keep them engaging and fresh. 

Team Motivation: A Final Word

Motivation comes in many shapes and sizes: finding out what motivates your workers can go a long way. Ensure they know what your company values and goals are, and how their daily work contributes to them, and don’t let endless, aimless meetings distract them from their work.

You are hitting your revenue ceiling.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. With Align you can get the whole company on the same page, remove shiny object syndrome and focus on the tasks that need to get done to grow your company. Fast.