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Motivating a Team to Reach Top Performance

By University Alliance
Motivating a Team to Reach Top Performance

There are numerous reasons why effective teams are considered critical to an organization’s overall success. Not the least of these is the power of collaboration to magnify the benefits of multiple viewpoints, experiences and skill sets. Taken together, this pooling of resources can make challenges seem surmountable.

Moving a group of individuals toward cohesiveness, collaboration and optimal team performance takes planning and commitment.

The team’s task must be stimulating and enriching, giving team members the opportunity to stretch their thinking, skills and knowledge base. While specific tasks can be assigned based on an employee’s talents and interests, there should also be enough variety and autonomy to maintain enthusiasm and spur creativity.

In addition, the goals must be clear and attainable at the individual and team level. Managers could consider employing the SMART goal philosophy, which holds that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensitive.

Of course, motivation plays a major role in any team’s ultimate success. Although there are some common baseline factors – such as fair pay and mutual respect among co-workers and supervisors – motivators can differ greatly from one team member to another. Where one employee may be energized by the prospect of additional vacation time, another may be spurred by the potential for promotion or company-paid attendance at an industry conference.

Managers need to understand the nuances among employees in order to effectively match motivational techniques to each individual. There are many approaches to cultivating employee motivation while also strengthening the bonds among team members, including:

  • In preparation for tackling a shared project, help build cohesion by having the team participate in a non-work challenge. This can take many forms, whether it’s a whitewater rafting trip or a scavenger hunt. By working together to overcome a physical or mental obstacle, team members can develop trust and respect.
  • Brainstorming sessions are excellent forums for encouraging group discussions and producing creative, outside-the-box thinking. They can also help ensure contributions from team members at every level in the company hierarchy. Establishing a contest for the best ideas generated, with teams voting for the winners, is a great way to promote effective team collaboration.
  • Provide feedback and support on a regular basis to teams on the work they’re doing. Also, hold the teams responsible for suggesting areas for improvement. Employ comprehensive, 360-degree reviews to ensure greater depth and breadth of feedback, which should enhance a team’s likelihood of long-term success.

Motivating employees to contribute as valuable members of a team goes beyond simply offering perks and rewards such as free meals or concert tickets. Employees want to be respected and recognized, which will reinforce the sense that they are accomplishing something that will make a positive difference.

To that end, ensuring teams are motivated to become top performers will require the involvement of the employees themselves in creating an environment that values creativity and collaboration.

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