You know that old motivational poster, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.” It’s a classic because it’s true. And the motivational poster happens to be relevant by design. Motivation is intrinsic in the “dream working” as well. Here are a few ways to keep your team motivated, poster not included. 

Set clear goals

Have you ever been in a workout class where the teacher has given you the assignment of 20 sit-ups, only to add another 5 at the end, just to be cheeky? If you’re like most, you not only had to suppress verbal expletives, you were likely also demotivated. Even if you had the physical conditioning necessary to complete 5 more sit-ups, something about being told the goal is “here”, only to find out the goal was actually “there”, wreaks havoc on our ability to pace ourselves. That’s not to say there aren’t surprises at the end of a project, or more to do, but being as transparent as you can with the task at hand is a great way to add purpose and motivation to the way your team paces itself, as a group and as individuals.

Speaking of transparency…

You may think you can keep track of every little detail yourself, but you likely have a lot on your plate. In the spirit of equipping your team with everything they need to succeed, release all the information you can and create transparency. This allows equal accountability, and the ability to leverage the largess that comes from being fully informed. We tend to do our best work when we can see the full picture, numbers, challenges, plans, any relevant info (sometimes info that doesn’t even appear relevant, at first). Your employees will feel valued to be kept in the loop, and you’ll have more trust they’ll be making decisions using all the information available. 

Have A Weekly Game Plan

Back to fitness analogies. One reason why Interval Training is so effective is that it’s broken down into smaller durations of high intensity output. Unless a person is trained, highly motivated, and/or a little nuts, sustaining a duration of one single activity too long without an end in sight typically inspires quitting. Now, to the opposite of a fitness analogy. A slice of pizza goes down easy. A whole pie? You might need a couple days (or hours) for that. The same is true for big group projects. Sure, you may have a few months of work in order to complete an initiative, but the best way to get there is to break it down into week-long slices. Make a detailed list at the beginning of each week and assign tasks for that week only. Then, at the end of each week, assess your progress and celebrate as a team. Maybe with pizza!

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Everyone appreciates being appreciated. We are sometimes likely to focus our own deficiencies, and yet we all have the goal to succeed. Count on the fact that criticism is something your employees are providing themselves, and focus on positive reinforcement. There’s nothing as frustrating as working hard only to feel your efforts overlooked. Take time to offer specific lauds (citing the task or effort you’re commending) and pat your employees on the back for what they’ve accomplished. Constructive criticism, and areas that need improvement are much better received (particularly when the reward of appreciation becomes motivational) when they’ve been preceded with something positive. You can also address better practices during end-of the week or project recaps.

Find A Common Place To See It All

Not only is a common hub a great way to assure signals aren’t crossed, and tasks aren’t duplicated, it’s a wonderful way to look at progress, and how far a project has come. A common hub is effective in the pragmatic time-saving sense, as well as the pragmatic (as it turns out) motivational sense. Look into project management tools that allow you to centralize all communication, updates, documents, in real time. Such tools also increase accountability, and a visual representation of the project, since the entire team contributes to its creation. It’s like a little work of art signed by all of artists on the team. 

So, here’s to Teamwork. And to the Dream. Not just concepts with which to decorate office walls, but ones that can become a reality, with just a little motivation!