How can I empower and motivate my team without being too hands-on?

Empowerment and motivation are two key ingredients of a successful team and one often fuels the other. If managers can empower their team with clear goals and the tools to get there, that can be incredibly motivational.

Conversely, if employees aren’t trusted to use their initiative to get the job done, don’t have the right tools for the job or don’t know what the end goals are, they can become very demotivated.

People Director, Lynn Morrison shares some helpful tips on how to empower and motive your team.

How to empower your team

  • Give them autonomy. Line managers have their own job and goals, one of which is to improve the performance of their team, but you must allow them to do it. Take a step back.
  • Be clear about what you expect them to achieve and what success looks like. If they’re doing something new for the first time, help them with the first steps to get them started. Don’t be prescriptive and wander into ‘too hands on’ territory. If they’re clear on business objectives let them get on with it.
  • Keep abreast of progress with regular one-to-one meetings. If there’s a schedule to keep to, check they’re on track. Ask if there are any barriers holding them back, and if so, whether there’s anything you can do (or stop doing!) to help.
  • Offer support. Line managers are there to help team members succeed and should assist if they are struggling – eg give extra time for a task or coaching.
  • Challenge them. People often want to stay in their comfort zone, but high support plus high challenge is what leads to high performance and increased confidence. It can be stressful, however, so keep an eye on how they are handling it.
  • Let them make their own mistakes. Giving someone the space to use their initiative means they’ll learn from their own mistakes. Don’t tell them what they did wrong or how you would have done it differently. Avoid catastrophes by talking through what they’re doing and ensuring they’re doing things appropriately in your one-to-ones.

Maintaining team motivation

  • Offer a compelling vision. When talking to your team, describe the business vision, tell them its goals for the coming year and how the team can contribute to them.
  • Be inspiring. Always be positive and believe it can happen. If your team have tough targets, present them as a problem to be solved collectively and discuss what you need to prioritise. Challenge naysayers; why don’t they think X is possible?
  • Give praise when it’s due – celebrate individual and team successes, in one-to-ones, team meetings and all employee meetings.

What if it doesn’t work?

If you’ve done everything right as a manager and someone is still dragging their feet, then you have to ask: is it a ‘skill’ issue or a ‘will’ issue? A ‘skill’ issue could mean they require some training or that they’re not right for the role, which might need a conversation about where they might be better suited. A ‘will’ issue could be a bad attitude, lateness and/or low performance, regardless of how much empowerment or motivation they’re given. In this case, you’ll need to consider performance management as early as possible before it affects the rest of the team.

It’s worth stressing, however, that the vast majority of employees want to do well. Give them a chance to prove themselves, arm them with the tools to do it and encourage their efforts, and you should be able to watch them thrive.

People Puzzles can mentor and coach your managers to become more effective team leaders. Take a look at the leadership coaching we offer to mid-tier businesses or call us on 020 3633 6830 to find out more.

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