When it comes to team motivation, I always think of the late comedian Benny Hill. He had this character called “Fred Scuttle”, and in one skit the character was in charge of digging the Channel Tunnel from England to France.
When asked how he kept the workforce motivated he replied: “I’m paying ’em in Francs!” Francs being the French currency at the time, and the implication being that the sooner the tunnel was dug, the sooner they could spend their money. The video is on YouTube. The humor is a bit dated now, but it’s still very funny.
The question in everyone’s head is: What’s in it for me?
The thing is, though, sometimes money alone ISN’T the primary motivator. More often, it’s because members of the team can identify with the objective, want to do a good job, and don’t want to let the rest of the team down. That’s how volunteer groups and not for profit organizations get people to turn out and do phenomenal work for free.
As leader, it’s up to you to help the team share your passion for the tasks ahead. Explain things fully – people respond much better when they can see the objective for themselves rather than just be told: “Because I say so!”.
Give responsibility, too. People work better when they feel a sense of ownership. You might also find that members of the team can see both pitfalls and opportunities which you can’t. This can lead to an improvement in the way the entire team works.
So use the carrot as well as stick. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a need for a metaphorical stick once in a while if someone turns out to be a slacker, or just isn’t up to the job.
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