What Motivational Managers Do

motivational managersLine managers are key to employee motivation. People, as the saying goes, do not leave companies they leave managers. So what can you do to improve motivation in the team you manage?

To your team you, as their line manager, represent the company. As such you have the responsibility to keep your people motivated and engaged. According to the researchers Gallup, managers account for at least seventy percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across different departments within the same business. So whilst your own manager and HR department can support you - it’s what you do that makes the real difference.

The most motivational managers tend to share a number of key characteristics. These are:

Motivational managers show credibility. As a manager you need to demonstrate to your team that you can talk confidently and knowledgeably about the work they do and that you clearly understand the various roles your staff perform. In fact, in the best performing teams, the manager routinely sits with their team and may even do some of the work themselves to keep their skills up to date. They also make time for their team, giving them practical help and guidance and providing additional training when required.

Motivational managers demonstrate good communication. As a manager you need to share the values and objectives of the company with your team. But not in a dull way, in an exciting way that makes the values and goals real and relevant. Let each team member know how they fit into the big picture and why their particular work contribution is both valuable to the company and valued by you. Without this clarification your team members can end up feeling like a very small cog in a very big wheel.

Motivational managers are clear about what they and the company expects; what people need to do to do a "good job" – and they do this without micro-managing their team.

Motivational managers are both firm and fair. You need to be prepared to give critical feedback and to do this in the right way (being polite and respectful). You must also give praise when good performance merits this. When mistakes are made (which will happen even with your best team members) take a positive problem solving approach, exploring the issue with them, listening and working out (together) how the situation can be avoided in the future.

Motivational managers are careful when they promote people into a team leader role. Simply promoting someone then leaving them to their own devices is highly unlikely to lead to engagement of the newly promoted person or the team they now supervise! Start all new team leaders off with a small team and make sure you provide them with adequate support while they develop their people management skills.

Motivational managers know the secret to employee engagement is for the manager to really value and put their team first. If you can answer the question “how can I make the working experience better for my team?” you will be half way towards creating a positive culture. There are many ways that companies use to make the working experience a positive one. From providing appropriate renumeration, incentive schemes and a pleasant physical working environment, to supporting health and wellbeing. Such interventions are, however, often outside of the line manager’s direct control. But other important ‘softer’ interventions are also important and these are often within your control as a line manager. These soft interventions include giving your employees a voice and encouraging them to feel as if they are part of a team and are working towards a common goal. To achieve this you must develop mutually honest relationships, get feedback from your team and act on this to promote continuous improvement.

Your role as a motivational manager is not to have all the answers but to facilitate getting the best answer from the people doing the actual job. So you need to learn how to listen and consult rather than simply telling people what to do. You also need to be courteous enough to explain “why” if the ideas your team raise aren’t or can’t be acted upon.

Finally, you must be engaged and motivated yourself. Your attitude will be transmitted to those you directly manage. Your own manager should support you in this by ensuring you receive the right development, line management training to develop your skills and give you the tools to do your job effectively.