5 Mistakes Leaders Make When Motivating Their Team

A recent Independent Agent magazine article explored common mistakes agency leaders
make when trying to motivate their teams. Only
about 30% of employees are engaged on the job, and disengaged workers cost employers at least $450 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Gallup data.

The path ahead for managers is clear: Boosting engagement means boosting motivation, productivity and profits. But that’s easier said than done. Managers, especially those early in their leadership careers, consistently list motivating employees as motivation-300x300one of their biggest challenges.

Why? Many supervisors don’t actually know what motivates employees. In a widely referenced study from the University of Michigan, researchers asked employees and employers to rank what workers want most out of their jobs. The two groups gave surprisingly different answers: Employees said their No. 1 motivator was “interesting work,” but employers ranked that fifth, predicting “good wages” would be the top motivator for workers.

Serving as a successful team leader starts with understanding how to motivate your team most effectively. Start by avoiding these five mistakes leaders make when motivating others:

1) Ignoring team dynamics. When TINYhr surveyed 200,000 employees at more than 500 companies, the employee engagement solutions firm discovered that their top motivators on the job are camaraderie and peer motivation. Unfortunately, managers often overlook this component, especially in times of business stress—ironically, the time team dynamics deserve even greater emphasis.

When establishing a team, or before bringing on a new person, consider personal dynamics. Spend time mapping out how the team will gel, both in terms of personalities and areas of expertise. Then set clear but challenging goals, and encourage the team to collaborate to meet them.

2) Micromanaging. Leaders are typically promoted to the management level because they’re driven and successful at their jobs. They’re used to doing the work and may be uncomfortable relinquishing that control.

Avoid this at all costs. In many cases, the best first step for managers who want to boost motivation may simply be getting out of the way. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, highly educated employees work more when they have autonomy over their schedules—sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

While the latter obviously isn’t preferable, this translates to productivity as well. People are more invested in their work when they’re able to put their mark on it. Give them the room to do so.

3) Managing instead of leading. Get out of the way, but don’t step aside completely. Research suggests that team members look to managers and leaders for inspiration and guidance—but many aren’t getting it. Only about half of employees feel inspired by their leaders, while a third say they don’t get the support they need from supervisors, according to 2014 research from Towers Watson.

The most effective managers and team leaders provide this inspiration and support by leading from within the group. To do that, start by simply using this one word a lot more often: “together”.

According to research summarized in the Harvard Business Review, simply telling teams they were working together generated significant results. Groups that felt more collaborative worked 48% longer, solved more problems correctly and even said they found their tasks more interesting.

Go to Independent Agent to see the other two mistakes leaders make when motivating their teams.

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