How To Motivate Your Employees With 11 Impactful Strategies

Updated 13 January 2023

The ability to encourage others to achieve their goals is one of your most important skills as a leader. There are many methods and strategies you can use to motivate your employees to accomplish their goals and meet expectations in their roles. If you're a manager or leader, knowing how to motivate team members can help you mentor people on your team to grow in their role, ensure that everyone meets performance objectives and develop a work environment that everyone enjoys.

In this article, we share the importance of developing a motivational environment in the workplace then list several strategies you can use to inspire and motivate your team.

Benefits of knowing how to motivate your team

When you understand how to encourage and support your team to be successful, you can produce many positive outcomes for your organisation. Motivating others is a useful skill that helps you be an impactful leader throughout your career, so it's useful to be familiar with several different methods and motivational systems. Here are some of the main benefits of having a strategy for motivating your team:

  • Improved performance: Understanding ways to motivate your team can help you improve the efficiency and quality of their work.

  • Increased satisfaction: By motivating your team effectively, you can provide a more enjoyable work environment and increase your team's satisfaction with their jobs.

  • Consistent delivery: Being able to motivate your team ensures that they consistently meet deadlines and deliver work that fulfils client expectations.


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How to motivate your team

Use these steps and strategies as a guide to motivate your team and create a work environment that supports their success:

1. Communicate expectations

To motivate your team properly, it's important for everyone to understand their goals. This provides people on your team with clear objectives and a plan for achieving them. It also gives everyone opportunities to ask questions at the beginning of a project and seek support, making it easier for you to understand the type of motivation and support they require to be successful. Explain what you expect from each person on your team and what metrics you're going to use to measure their performance.

When setting expectations, include information about what your team members can expect from you. This establishes equal, open communication and facilitates a motivational relationship. Explain how they can contact you for support and what kind of assistance you can offer to encourage them.


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2. Make objectives achievable

Professionals may be more successful when they have reasonable goals that they can achieve. When setting expectations, consider the amount of work that your team can reasonably accomplish by reviewing their past contributions. Help teams set their project goals and plan strategies to meet objectives to invest in their success and show your involvement in their workflow.

Ensure the objectives you set are achievable within the time frame you outline and give staff a way to measure their progress. For instance, integrate a task chart that outlines each weekly objective and the tasks and actions team members can take to reach each objective. You can also check in with each person to get feedback about how they feel about their goals. Having open conversations about realistic goals can motivate your team members to do their best and achieve their potential.

3. Make time for individuals

People on your team may feel more motivated to achieve their goals and invest in their work when they have personalised, individual support. Schedule one-on-one time to speak with team members regarding their workflow, goals or progress. During these short meetings, discuss individual progress goals, encourage team members to share feedback about your performance and provide specific advice to help your teams build more confidence in their work.

These honest discussions can develop trust, build professional relationships and help you mentor team members to grow consistently in their careers. Some professionals may feel internal motivation because they want to report progress during each meeting, while others may enjoy the external motivation and encouragement from individual support.

Related: 5 Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader

4. Create healthy competition

Many people use competition as a motivational tool to inspire their own success. Creating a culture of positive competition on your team can encourage everyone to improve their performance or find more efficient ways to accomplish their goals. Friendly competition can get teams involved in projects and inspired to collaborate. You can create contests around work objectives such as who can complete their departmental tasks first, or plan events off-site where staff can participate in a competitive sport or event as a team-building exercise.

5. Recognise achievements

When professionals complete difficult tasks or achieve a specific milestone, such as a three-year work anniversary, give recognition for their success and contributions. This can create a sense of community within the team, which encourages everyone to try their best when completing their duties because of their personal investment in the team. Recognition can relate to personal goals, milestones and achievements. Appreciating staff's achievements, even personal ones, can give them a sense of pride and boost their morale.

When recognition is a regular part of your workplace culture, your colleagues may also feel more motivated as they approach milestones or deadlines for challenging projects. You can share recognition by simply sending an email to the team congratulating them, hosting a lunch in their honour or providing them with physical tokens like certificates and gifts.

6. Foster staff autonomy

Show team members that you trust them to do their jobs independently and make important decisions regarding project tasks and direction. Provide opportunities for teams to lead new initiatives and learn from mistakes. Showing you value your team member's talent and unique skills can encourage autonomy in the workplace, foster respect for company objectives and motivate staff to succeed.

Another aspect of encouraging staff autonomy is providing growth opportunities. Talk to your teammates about potential promotions and how they want to advance their careers. Helping them grow their career can motivate them to apply their skills in their current role to achieve the outcomes they want.

7. Assign meaningful work

Provide assignments that are meaningful to team members to give them internal motivation to succeed. Discuss company goals and how their work influences the company's growth and development. It's important to help team members understand the purpose of their role and how it fits into the organisational structure of the company. For instance, you can help a team member who stocks inventory connect purpose to their role by communicating how their inventory organisation and categorisation make order processing more efficient. When team members can connect meaning to their work, they may be more likely to be engaged with their daily tasks.

8. Give positive feedback

Offer genuine praise for work ethic, performance and talent. Team members like to know that you appreciate their talent, and management's positive feedback can boost their overall morale. Positive praise can encourage your team to maintain the momentum that elicited the praise in the first place so that your teams continue to give you their best efforts. Give compliments when you notice someone doing exceptional work to provide instant motivation. You can also provide regular positive feedback during meetings and performance reviews to create a record of their excellent performance.

It's also a good strategy to incorporate positive feedback into your constructive criticism. Whenever you're correcting a team member or giving them a critique, include something positive that they're doing well. This can motivate them to improve and remind them that they're capable of success while also redirecting unsuccessful behaviours.


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9. Create bonus incentives

Motivate teams with a bonus incentive programme that rewards people who have exceptional work performance. Providing fair, competitive compensation shows that you value the contributions of your team and want to share the financial benefits of their hard work. Incentive bonuses use monetary rewards to support performance and productivity. Bonuses can be an exciting opportunity to earn more and encourage your team members to reflect on how they can improve their own performance to optimise their earnings.

For instance, incorporate a monthly incentive for teams who complete extra tasks, achieve company objectives or exceed expectations. Create opportunities for everyone to qualify for a bonus reward by setting different criteria for each bonus period, such as exceeding quota one month and completing training the next month. Consider which types of bonuses are most applicable to people on your team.

Related: What Is Compensation? (Definition and Types)

10. Invest in workplace surroundings

Having a pleasant environment at work can make it easier to motivate your team. People may want to work harder when they enjoy being in their workplace. Create functional workspaces with useful, ergonomic equipment and accessible supplies. When possible, select attractive decor for common areas and allow your team to decorate their personal spaces. Offering communal snacks and drinks can also provide your team with an additional energy boost when they need motivation.

11. Share your experiences

Talking to your team members about your own experiences can be an excellent motivational strategy. When they encounter challenges, explain any similar situations you experienced in your career and how you overcame them. Openly and honestly discussing failures in the workplace allows you to give your team inspiration for how to work through problems, be innovative and grow in their own careers. Use specific, appropriate examples that relate to your workplace and discuss how you apply the skills you learned throughout your career to your current position.

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