Make your team great… motivate and delegate!

Create the right working environment

If you’ve ever bought a house plant in a garden centre you will have pulled out the care tag from the pot to find instructions like: “Place in strong sunlight, water every day and fertilize regularly”. While you might not always follow these instructions to the letter, you may occasionally water the plant: you know that it will die if you don’t!

Employees don’t come with a care tag but they’re usually more than willing to tell you about their individual work needs and preferences if you make the time to ask them. When you do, you’ll get a wide range of answers which will challenge you to create a working environment where each team member will blossom. In short, that’s the secret of motivating.

People are motivated by different things – depending on their values, their personalities, their individual needs, their life stages and on many other changing factors. Some are motivated by salary and status while others thrive on formal recognition and continuous feedback and praise. Some come to work for the friendships and variety while others crave authority and autonomy. It’s inevitable that over time some people will move on or outgrow your business but you’ll be surprised at just how many of your team’s needs you can readily satisfy when you use listening and questioning as your touchstone.

Employees need to understand how hard they are expected to work and the standards they are expected to achieve. If you have a formal performance management system you may already be setting goals and monitoring standards. If so, then ask your team members for their suggestions as to how your system can be improved. If you don’t yet have a performance management system in place, consult your team for their ideas on how you can introduce one that really works.

While employers anticipate that money, job security and promotions will top everyone’s list of motivators, it’s often the fundamentals like clear-cut Job Descriptions, genuine appreciation, help with personal problems and a sense of purpose and involvement that encourage employees to make a special effort to go the extra mile at work.

You can’t do it all – delegate!

Every minute that you spend doing something that someone else can do is one less minute that you have to do something that only you can do.

Delegating is the first step on the road to empowering team members. When you delegate you are directing work in a more hands-off way, enabling people to develop initiative and accept increased responsibility. And yet it’s often easier for us to find reasons for not delegating: “I haven’t got the time; it’s just too complicated to show someone else; they wouldn’t do it to my standards; if I delegate too much I could find I have nothing left to do…”

If you’re making these excuses it’s time to ask yourself if you’re really serving your business by trying to do everything. Here are five simple steps to help you to delegate more effectively:

  1. Make a list of the tasks you could delegate.
  2. For each task, identify a person who has the time and who would benefit (through self-development, recognition or increased responsibility) from taking on this task.
  3. For each task, define the precise standards that you require.
  4. Plan time for coaching each person in each delegated task.
  5. Make it happen!

Believe in your team members and they will amaze you by finding faster and more effective ways to do the things that you thought you could never let go of.

Delegation is recognised as one of the most powerful methods of motivating your team. So start today! Make your team great…motivate and delegate.

Jean Cullinane

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