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    7 Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team

    By Michael Manzo
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    If you’re looking to motivate your team effectively, you must understand that your success as a manager relies on their success. When you lead them well, you can transform the collective effort into something greater than the individual contributions. Conversely, poor leadership can result in an unhappy, unproductive, and unsuccessful team. So, what steps can you take to become a better leader and motivate your team?

    1/ Empower them to make their own decisions… with boundaries

    People frequently believe that setting work boundaries will limit an employee’s ability to work. In fact,   defining a clear scope of work will make it easier for your staff to work and make decisions inside that area with confidence. They understand which situations they have the authority to handle on their own and which will require the advice of their superiors.

    Example: Allowing a customer service representative to spend up to 20% of a client’s yearly fees on keeping that customer happy allows the person to handle a problem quickly without approval from the manager (and slowing down the service provided).

    2/ Listen to your team members

    Many managers believe they are listening to their employees, however their employees often think otherwise. Considering our previous article about listening to your customers, true listening is all about learning what people like about you, but more crucially, what they don’t like about you.  Most managers are unwilling and/or unable to subject themselves to that level of scrutiny.

    Some managers make an attempt to solicit feedback by holding formal feedback sessions with their entire staff together all at once.  This is a well-intentioned but ineffective technique. What employee wants to risk offending their boss in front of others?

    Instead, consider anonymous feedback, perhaps with the help of HR. And be sure to make it clear to the team that their feedback will be used for growth purposes only and will not result in retaliation of any kind.

    3/ Trust your team

    An excellent manager is able to lead an ordinary team to extraordinary results. If you wait for the perfect group of individuals, you will be waiting forever. Recognize each person’s strengths, limitations, and needs. Find better ways for people to support each other. Bring people together to support and encourage each other. Then believe 100% in these partnerships and collaborations.

    These approaches are examples of transformational leadership in business. As a result, your staff will continually get better and collaborate more effectively to achieve business goals.

    4/ Forgive mistakes… to a point

    Certainly, no one likes mistakes, especially if the mistake is not their own. Therefore, naive managers often feel the need to punish their employees for making any kind of mistake. The outcome of this behavior is that employees will be hesitant to make any decisions whatsoever for fear of retribution. It favors inaction over action, which is a sure recipe for long-term failure.

    To balance this, you should define the types of mistakes that are acceptable and those that are not.  A good rule of thumb is that mistakes are acceptable if they: a) are made in a good faith effort to try something new that, if successful, will help the company, and b) the cost of the mistake is acceptable given the potential benefit.

    For example, if a marketing team decides to invest 5% of their budget in a new media form (e.g., text messaging marketing) and it results in no new sales, that would be an acceptable mistake. However, if an employee violates the company’s sexual harassment policy, that would be an unacceptable mistake.

    Read more: How to locate and hire the right offshore development team? A Guide for Startup Founders

    5/ Provide growth paths

    Everything in life, including people, changes. Your staff will be driven to leave you if you do not provide them the opportunity to grow. Major corporations frequently create career paths in line with a training and development program. 

    This tactic may not apply to smaller firms because they don’t have enough roles to provide numerous opportunities for their employees. However, small companies CAN provide chances for growth in a variety of areas such as professional knowledge, benefits, and emotional development.

    Read: 6 common reasons for miscommunication at work (and how to avoid them)

    6/ Praise effort instead of focusing too much on talent

    It’s tough to tell which is more important: effort or talent. Talent belongs to people’s nature, and effort belongs to their attitudes toward work. Both factors have a significant impact on job performance. However, when you want to motivate your employees, you should focus on the effort. Recognition for their effort will be far more important than praise for something that was successful but easy. It’s just human nature.

    7/ Challenge them… by listening to them

    Boredom is easy to develop in tasks that are repetitive and non-innovative. Bored employees will, in turn, be more susceptible to mistakes, miss more work, and create a higher attrition risk.

    If you see signs of boredom in your employees, try talking less and observing more. They may have more ideas than you might think. And if they have ideas, that will give you an opportunity to challenge them by asking them to try to implement those ideas.


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    President & Chief Executive Officer

    About the author...

    Michael Manzo has nearly than 30 years of experience managing all aspects of software development including product management, user experience and interface design, engineering, quality assurance and marketing. Michael has served as President and CEO of CodeStringers since September 2014, having served as the company’s founding Chief Product Officer from July 2012.Prior to CodeStringers, Michael was Chief Marketing, Product and Strategy Officer at Openet, a leading global provider of transactional business and operational support system (B/OSS) software for telecom and cable firms, where he led marketing, product management, strategic planning and growth initiatives for the company. Manzo joined Openet as part of a turn-around team and, during his tenure, Openet grew from $15m in annual revenue to more than $150m, became the worldwide market share leader in the company’s primary product category, and developed a widely recognized reputation as the telecom infrastructure industry thought leader.Previously, Michael was Vice President of Products and Marketing for Traverse Networks, a fixed mobile convergence enterprise solution provider, which was acquired by Avaya. Michael has also held executive positions at Voice Access Technologies, Omnisky (acquired by EarthLink), Telocity (acquired by Hughes DirecTV), and Notify Technology Corporation. Michael has a BA in Journalism from the University of New Hampshire. In his spare time, Michael is an amateur woodworker, building indoor and outdoor furniture for friends and family. Until injuries sidelined him, Michael was an accomplished triathlete, having completed six Ironman distance races and numerous shorter distance races. Michael also served nine years in the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard being honorably discharged as a Sergeant.

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