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Annette Quinn The secret to motivation for managers

“How can you motivate the people who work for you?”

This must be the toughest question I ever ask when training managers as I rarely get any answers. If I push, I might get something along the lines of “bring in cakes” or “use the discretionary fund to give a bonus”. But that’s it!

So, I have now learnt to ask the question in a different way, asking managers:

“What are all the things your manager does that demotivate you?”

Chalkboard Cake The Secret To Motivation For Managers

I usually fill a flip chart page, can’t keep up with the responses and there is a lot of shouting and talking over each other.

So, why are managers so knowledgeable on this topic and not the other?

Well, firstly they are talking about their managers, so they are in the Circle of Concern, which removes all accountability from them, and secondly, it is probably because their managers do a lot of the demotivating things!

After a while, someone usually realises that if this type of behaviour demotivates them, it’s also likely that if, as a manager, they display the same types of behaviour, their staff will be demotivated too.

So, how can a manager motivate their people? Yes, there are all the theories, but what are the simple, achievable actions and behaviours that impact on us?

Communicate with them

I think this is the root of it all. If we get this right, then a firm foundation has been laid. We all want to know what is going on in the organisation, and many managers forget that, thinking that their teams just want to do their job and go home. This is not necessarily the case. People want the information to help them do their jobs effectively, so:

  • Ensure you have regular meetings, huddles, team briefings, ones to ones, etc. to update staff on what you learnt at your management meeting and whatever facts, figures, feedback and company information that may impact on their work
  • Make this meaningful and interactive, encourage questions, discuss the impact this may have on them in their role. What are their thoughts?
  • You can never over communicate, so meet with your people, talk to them on an individual level, and do this more than you think you need to do
  • When you meet your employees, remember to say “Good Morning” or “Hello” and ask how they are doing – it might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many managers don’t do this!

Build relationships

We spend a lot of our time at work and when we are not at work, we are usually thinking about it. It’s important that when people go home, they have good things to say about their manager, rather than bad. So remember:

  • Communication is key to building good relationships, especially through a quick “Hello, how are you?” and one to one discussions
  • Take the time to find out more personal things about them - their families, hobbies and celebrations - comment on it, refer to it. When they return from a holiday, ask how it was, show interest
  • Be there for them. If someone needs to speak to you, make the time
  • Listen effectively – this is crucial!
  • Trust them to do their job and give them feedback on all aspects of their work
  • Say thank you

Motivate them

The big word, the answer to all our problems. Gallup Inc. highlight the 12 elements of great management which are simple, key things any manager can do, in order to motivate their people.

The 12 elements are taken from the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey. It is interesting to see that we are motivated by very simple and achievable things. There is nothing on that list that a manager cannot achieve, even number 10, having a best friend at work.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is nothing about cake on the list, but in my opinion cake will always make most people a little bit happier!

Want to find out more about how to develop your managers to get the best from your people? Contact us to find out more about our leadership and management programmes. 

If you would like to understand about how your role as a manager influences your team, our Management Development Programme may be the perfect solution. Find out more here.



Annette Quinn, Performance Management Facilitator

In my series of blogs I will be taking a look at performance management, in particular Time Management, and providing tips on how to develop your skills.

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Copyright © 2016 Bray Leino Learning

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