“How do I motivate my team?” That’s the question many managers ask. They want a “magic bullet” that can improve team motivation overnight. But, life isn’t like that.
I understand and appreciate why this question is asked. I was a manager for 15 years — I understand the challenges that managers face.
The answer is: “You don’t motivate your team; you create the environment where they motivate themselves.”
Effective motivation is intrinsic — it has to come “from within”. There is no instant fix; it’s an ongoing day-to-day process of small actions that build a highly motivated team. It is like pushing a heavy boulder — you need some initial effort to get the process going, but once you’ve done that, it takes a lot less effort to keep it moving.
So, how do good managers create an environment that inspires motivation?
I’ve spent years studying successful managers to try and establish what makes them inspirational. I also thought about the managers whom I worked for and those I respect.
A manager can have a certain level of success if he is good at the business part of the job, but less capable at the human aspect. Some managers can go through their whole career by being competent in only the business and technical aspects of the job.
But to be a really successful manager and to build a self-motivating team, you need to be good at the human part of the job.
Unfortunately, many managers are terrified of having a soft touch. But if you want to be successful, get over it!
Let me give you some examples of what has been said about successful football managers. I read a newspaper report about the Manchester United soccer player Wayne Rooney and his relationship with his manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
In Rooney’s words: “Sir Alex is a hard manager and a tough manager, but he also gets on well with the players. The players can talk to him and that’s important. That's all you need in a manager, to know you can trust him and turn to him when you have problems.”
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is the world’s highest paid football manager. In an interview, he was asked what quality was most important in contributing to his success as a manager. “I think its love,” he said. “Love comes first, and because of love, other things arrive. I think without my love for my wife and for my kids, I wouldn't be the manager I am. I think life is about that.”
Mourinho’s love extends beyond his family: his love applies to his players as well; he speaks of them like favourite sons. He has undoubted love for them, as they, quite obviously, have for him.
Now I know what you’re thinking — do you have to tell your teammates that you love them?
No, but you do need to:
Spend some quality time with each of them;
Listen to them and really get to know them;
Coach them on the job, and help them find solutions to job-related or personal problems;
Find ways to make their job more interesting;
Show that you appreciate them and have some fun;
Let them know what’s happening in the organisation, and
Trust and believe in them; don't keep “supervising”.
You have to do, say or demonstrate behaviour to your team members that lets them know you care about them. That’s what makes the good managers good, and if you want to join them, the question is: Are you tough enough to care?
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