I WAS speaking to a friend at the gym recently. He works in the corporate division of a major international bank. He was looking a bit down in the mouth, so I asked him how he was doing.

He said that he and his colleagues were concerned about how the recession was affecting their business, and what effect this would have on them personally.

He then went on to tell me that, at a recent meeting, he had asked his manager: “How are you going to motivate us?” To his horror, the manager answered: “I haven’t a clue. I thought you might tell me!”

This is a classic case of a manager who has no idea how to motivate and get the best out of his team. And I’m sad to say, this is prevalent in many businesses today.

So why is this? I believe there are four reasons:

It’s a difficult job

Managing, supervising and being a team leader is one of the hardest jobs in the world because you’re dealing with human beings, and they are the most complex and complicated pieces of “equipment” you will ever have to deal with.

There’s no manual

Many of them have similarities but every one of them in this world is unique, and they all work in a slightly different way. Your job, as a manager, is to get these complex humans working as efficiently as possible. The snags? There is no-one around to show you what to do, and there is no instruction manual.

Misleading message

Some aspects of the media and popular culture also send the wrong messages. We have all heard the old cliché, “nice guys don’t finish first”, and that has a huge impact on how managers deal with their people.

We are led to believe that successful managers are tough, courageous, “no-nonsense” type of people. And if you are weak or soft with your staff, then you will get walked on, and taken advantage of.

A manager will often look at successful managers in business or sport to try and understand what makes them successful. Movies often portray these people as tough guys who drive their people by the force of their personality, shouts and threats — no wimps allowed.

Wrong fit

But it also has to be said that some people just don’t have what it takes to be a manager. Just as some people don’t have what it takes to be a doctor, a plumber, a lawyer or a bus driver. Whatever job or profession an individual ends up in, it does not necessarily mean that it is the right one for them.

Although I’m saying that some managers are in the wrong job, they tend to be in the minority. If you feel that you are not having the success you should have, ask yourself if you have ever received any help. I think you will find that, like many managers, you have been left to get on with it.

Here is a really simple three-step way to build a highly motivated team. First, spend quality time with your staff. Second, give them positive feedback and coach them to do even better. Third, and most importantly, trust and believe in them to do a good job.