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Motivation for managers: 5 principles for team motivation

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Being in charge of motivating an entire team of individuals is no small task. As a manager, you know that motivation does not just happen. It is an active process. One that managers need to allow some time for on a continuing basis. Here are five important principles for the manager dedicated to actively motivating people.

There is no single magic formula

No one thing, least of all money, provides an easy option for creating positive motivation at a stroke, and anything that suggests itself as such a panacea should be viewed with deep suspicion.

Success is in the details

Good motivation comes from minimising the factors that tend to create dissatisfaction, and maximising the effect of those factors that can create positive motivation. All of them in both cases must be considered; it is a process of leaving no stone unturned, with all those found able to contribute to the overall picture being useful to utilise. At the end of the day, what is described as the motivational climate of an organisation, department or office is the sum of all the pluses and minuses, large or small, in terms of how individual factors weigh in the balance.


The analogy of climate is a good one. As a small scale example of this, consider a greenhouse. Many factors contribute to the temperature inside. Heating, windows, window blinds, whether a door or window is open, if heating is switched on and so on. But some such things – whatever they are – are in place and contributing to the prevailing temperature all the time. So too with motivation. Managers must accept that creating and maintaining a good motivational climate takes some time and is a continuous task.

Time scale

Another thing that must be recognised is the differing time scales involved. On the one hand, signs of low motivation can be a good early warning of performance in peril. If you keep your ear to the ground you may be able to prevent negative shifts in performance or productivity by letting signs of demotivation alert you to the coming problem. The level of motivation falls first, then performance follows. Similarly, watch the signs after you have taken action aimed at actively affecting motivation positively. Performance may take a moment to start to change for the better, but you may well be able to identify that this is likely through the signs of motivation improving. Overreacting because things do not change instantly may do more harm than good. If motivation is improving, performance improvement is usually not far behind.

Bear others in mind

There is a major danger in any manager taking a censorious view of any motivational factor – positive or negative. Most managers find that some at least of the things that worry their staff, or switch them on, are not things that would affect themselves. No matter. It is the other people who matter. If you regularly find things that you are inclined to dismiss as not of any significance, be careful. What matters to you is not the same as what matters to others.

How to Motivate your Team

Learning how to get the best results from your team is an essential management skill. Learn how with our eBook How to Motivate your Team.

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