The Three Things That Motivate Teams

motivate teams

(Part three in a four-part series. Read Part One here, and Part Two, here.)

Lack of motivation in America costs companies billions of dollars in lost productivity. It seems commonplace within business circles to blame this rising trend on millennials, criticizing their work ethic or values. Whatever the causes of workplace demotivation, leaders need new insight into how they can motivate teams. Many traditional approaches to workplace motivation, including raises and benefits, do not carry the same weight they used to.

Work that matters

One reason for the decline in the “value” of a traditional compensation package is that Americans now desire meaning in their work. Beyond just taking home a paycheck, employees want to know that the work they do matters.  A study conducted by Phillips discovered that 68% of those surveyed would be willing to take a decrease in pay if their position was of personal interest to them.

Leaders can motivate teams by considering the company’s mission and purpose and applying it to the values of its employees. What social issues matter in your community? What cause can your company back to make a real improvement in the lives of others? These are questions to which leaders focused on motivation should consider. The answers can affect not only motivation but retention rates and even recruitment efforts.

Feeling Valued

Employees also want to feel valued for their unique abilities. Leaders can demonstrate appreciation for employee talent in many ways. The best method for showing appreciation in a way that motivates teams will be different from individual to individual. One employee might prefer words – a public show of appreciation – while another responds to a more tangible token of recognition, such as a corporate logo’ed gift.

However, regardless of personality type, all employees appreciate their opinion being sought out and valued during decision-making processes; particularly those that will affect them. Consulting a few employees who are closest to the issue is not only an excellent way to show value to them but also a wise method of gaining another valuable perspective and of course, a perfect way to motivate teams.


If you find yourself in a leadership situation where you feel you are trying everything to motivate teams, but nothing seems to be working, then a lack of trust is likely your real issue. Trust is the foundation upon which a motivated team is built. Work hard to develop and maintain a level of confidence within your entire organization. Communicate openly and quickly. Acknowledge failure and difficult circumstances honestly. Discuss past shortcomings and take responsibility when appropriate. When your team trusts you and your company’s management, the actions you take to motivate your employees will be received openly rather than met with skepticism. As Forbes described, “bosses, who inspire confidence, who show faith in their employees, and who communicate an inspiring vision…are rewarded with a workforce that is ready to get things done.”

Want to improve trust, show employees they’re valued and make sure your leaders can show that the work your company does matters? Check out A Better Leader – online leadership skills training for today’s workplace.

Chris Craddock

As the leader of Projections' production team, Chris loves to inspire others to perform at the highest levels! From the most challenging leadership opportunities to brainstorming the latest topics leaders want to learn about, Chris provides clear direction and vision.