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How do I find out what makes my staff tick?

The Management Centre

In this blog, =mc Director Charlotte Scott shares practical advice on how to motivate your teams.

I want my team to feel motivated in their roles – what can I do?

It’s generally agreed that motivation is a good thing – and a topic all managers think about at some point. Motivated staff perform their jobs more effectively. They are also more creative, flexible and healthy. They have the energy and commitment not only to do what is needed today, but also to welcome what might be needed tomorrow.

So how do you motivate others?

The answer is, you can’t!

True motivation comes from within – it’s not something to be ‘provided’ by someone else. Motivation is the personal desire and drive to solve problems, to seek out new challenges and to learn.

While you can’t motivate someone else, what you can do in your role as manager, is to provide an environment in which people feel motivated to deliver and achieve. This might include offering more responsibility and interesting work – if that’s what turns them on – so individuals see their skills developing and their expertise deepening.

two people talking about work

But don’t assume the same ‘environment’ will suit all your team. What gets one person out of bed joyous in the morning might be deeply stressful to another. Motivators are personal. To help your team you still need to talk to them individually.

Find out what’s important to each person and why. Ask them how they feel about the organisation and their role in it. Find out what’s got them to where they are and their hopes for the future.

Thinking about just one of your team members, how many of the following questions could you answer with confidence?

  1. Why they applied for their current role?
  2. Their biggest work based achievement?
  3. The favourite aspect of their role?
  4. The least favourite aspect of their role?
  5. If they had to swap roles with another member of the organisation – who would they swap with – and why?
  6. Where they want to be in five years time?
  7. How their job measures up to their expectations of what it would be?
  8. How the organisation measures up to their expectations?
  9. What they did before working with you and why they left?
  10. Do they prefer public or private praise?

By finding out the answers – not all at once (you don’t want to turn it into an inquisition) but gradually – you will start to build a much more detailed picture of each person.

Only then can you think and talk to them about how you might create an environment in which they feel motivated. And importantly to spot when upcoming change (or lack of change) might leave them feeling demotivated.

Motivational message on a post-it note saying "great work"

Try this exercise on yourself. Your motivation is also important. And your team is much more likely to be inspired and excited if you are!

Good luck!

What’s next?

For more information on how we can help with motivating teams, visit our Learning & Development webpages or call us on +44(0)20 7978 1516.

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Charlotte Scott

About Charlie Scott

Charlie specialises in leadership development, team facilitation and strategy development. Charlie worked for over 20 years in the not-for-profit sector. Before joining =mc ten years ago, she created and...