How I wish I had a pound for every time a manager has asked me how to motivate people when they don’t have the budget!
It’s as if they think that money is the panacea to everything motivational, that money will create a high performance individual based on the worth they attain with the company.
It’s a shame, because money is really a short-term motivator at best. I often ask managers ‘If you gave your team a 10% pay rise tomorrow, would you see them work 10% smarter to achieve 10% better results?’ The normal answer is no.
So what options do you have if you don’t have the money but still want to drive the team’s motivation forward?
Here are 8 ways:
1) Remember the power of recognition. Find ways to advertise good performance and give them public recognition where you can. This may mean placing results on the intranet or notice boards, telling clients how well they have done, and certainly letting others in the departments share in the pride of good performance. A few pounds spent on an evening out shouldn’t break the bank, and will make the individual feel that they have been recognised for a job well done.
2) Make them feel that their ideas are worth investing in and that the decisions they have come up with will drive the company forward. If they feel they have some autonomy in how their job is structured or how the actual role is carried out, they will always feel that their opinion counts, raising their self-esteem and allowing them to take further risks in suggesting alternatives and new ideas.
3) Whenever you see the opportunity, coach them. Nothing drives an already-motivated team member more than feeling their skills are being utilised and they are growing towards a pre-determined goal. Coaching is the best way yet devised to encourage someone to journey on the road to self-discovery. If they feel they are being coached, that attention and consideration can work wonders for them.
4) Share as much information as possible. Mushroom management (being kept in the dark and fed manure) is the death knell to motivation because people don’t feel part of the organisation and are left feeling they don’t matter. Let them know how the company is doing, what products are being planned, how the competition are having an impact…everything you can to make them feel involved.
5) Be there. Improve your listening skills so the team feel they can approach you without the risk of feeling they are intruding. Be available to them wherever and whenever possible and make it obvious.
6) Be absolutely open and clear about the future. Why is there no budget for bonuses or pay-rises? What does it mean to their long-term future? People will understand why they have to endure no monetary motivation if they are kept in the loop. It’s the not-knowing that cheeses most people off.
7) Be as personable as possible with every team member. You’re all in it together so be aware that if you choose a supportive, coaching style of management, they are more likely to reciprocate and have the sense of belonging that you are wanting.
8 ) Be enthusiastic about your role, even though you might not feel it on the inside. People will look to your example as to how they should feel about things. Motivation is a personal attribute, so show your enthusiasm for what opportunities the future may hold for you and the team
There will still be many managers who feel they can’t motivate without a wad of money to give away, but if you try out some of the ideas above, there may well be some team members who show that money isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. They may actually prove themselves to be even greater assets to you if you approach them from the perspective that growth, recognition, autonomy and responsibility drives people much more effectively than a few extra pounds in their pocket ever will.
Originally published: 28 February, 2011
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