Meredith Ali, Contracts Manager
As a manager or team lead, it can be hard to keep team members motivated and energized about their work. Many employees develop robot syndrome where they feel like computers coded to do a specific job in a specific way. There are five simple things leaders can do to inspire their team to keep them engaged and boost morale.
Rein in your directive management style.
It is impossible to manage a team without direction but too many team leads fall into a never-ending pattern of directives and orders. This management style can lead team members to feel unheard, insignificant, and then robot syndrome sets in. This can be avoided by implementing a more inclusive management style. For example, when a project comes up instead of immediately handing out tasks and directing your team what to do and how to do it, first start with a question, “What do you all think?” or “Any initial thoughts or ideas?”. This route might take a little longer getting the project started but in the long run it will energize the team, get creative juices flowing, and it may lead to a better way of approaching the task. When you only tell your team what to do you are imposing your control, eliminating choice, and silencing your team. But when you relinquish some control and trust your team, you are providing them the opportunity to willingly contribute to the collective mission.
Fine-tune your vocabulary.
The language you use with your team ‘speaks’ volumes of your intent. For example, when you use “I” instead of “we” you are separating yourself from your team and can give the impression that your opinion holds higher value. By simply changing your wording to “we” you are showing your team that you view them and yourself as a collective equal unit. The cliché “it is the little things that matter” cannot be more true. Remembering to say, “thank you” and “I appreciate you/your work” takes you no time but can mean a lot to your team and will inspire them to continue to do good work.
Lead by example.
Language and vocabulary are important but if your actions don’t match your words then they will soon fall on deaf ears. As important as it is to use supportive and motivating language it is even more important to back it up with your actions. A good leader would never assign work they themselves can’t do and when the going gets tough nothing you say will inspire your team more than you assisting with the work they may be struggling with.
Remind your team about how they are contributing to the company’s mission.
Another way to keep your team engaged and inspired is to remind them of the company’s mission and how they play a key role within that mission. It is easy for employees to feel insignificant when looking at the big picture that is your company and if their job involves mundane tasks, it can lead them to feel like their work isn’t important. Giving feedback on their work and how it contributes to your companies’ goals reminds them of their significance. This again prevents robot syndrome.
Inspire outside of your direct team.
Most of these tips relate to you and your direct team but you can inspire other teams and departments as well. With different management styles and processes it is easy to forget that other departments are an extension of your team. By using the tips above with other teams, you can inspire them to collaborate and cooperate more with you and your direct team. This will further boost your team’s capability and performance.
If you are interested in learning more about leading to inspire and persuading improved performance, check out Dr. Chuck Carringer’s (President, Chuck Carringer Executive Coaching LLC) podcast Leadership Upside or his website checkcarringer.com.