Before you look at ways to motivate others, make sure you are motivated about what you do. If you aren’t, then you need to find ways to get excited and enthused every day at the office. Your team will listen more closely to what you suggest if they know you are at that place already.
Now you are on the right path, start talking with your people. Ask questions so you understand what tasks they really enjoy and what ones they must do but feel like doing them sucks their soul right out of them. Make no promises about ditching the tasks they hate, because, well – every job has some things you have to do that you don’t like doing.
Once you’ve gotten that information from everyone on your team, then give people some of what they love doing as their responsibility. Also, let them determine how to accomplish their work if possible. You may find what some people really hate doing, others enjoy. Active people might hate filing or tasks where they sit in one place for several hours at a time. Others on your team may find those same tasks a calming experience.
There are going to be some items no one wants to do, and some that several people want to do. You can divvy them up or turn a game into the assigning those. Make a wheel of misfortune, or draw items out of the black hat and the white hat. If you do that, bring a treat that everyone can enjoy while they get their “bad” assignments. That can turn dread into a fun 10-minute break in the day.
Schedule a production meeting with your staff to review the company mission, ethics, etc. and help people find a personal connection to those ideals and goals. Have an open discussion and brainstorming session about suggestions and ideas of what improvements can be made and how to go about that. Encourage the team to make an investment of their energy, thoughts, and talents to build the company and give them a sense of belonging and feeling of satisfaction.
Budgets sometimes get tight, and sometimes perks get whittled down, but not all perks have a monetary expense. Look for fun ways to recognize people’s great work and try ideas to keep team spirit high. It wouldn’t cost a lot to have donuts for the team every other Friday morning, or even a snack exchange day when everyone brings five of their favorite protein bars or individual bags of chips. Throw all the treats on the table on a Monday afternoon, and let everyone take five treats away for their afternoon snacks that week. Ideas like that cost very little, but people have fun. And when people enjoy their workplace, they don’t usually go out looking for another job.
Above all, make sure you are having a bit of fun at the office with your team. When you do that, people are fine with working an extra hour when needed, or chipping in when someone else on the team needs help.
David Milberg is an investment banker from NYC.