Top Tips for Motivating Teams

By Sue Parsons1

When times are tough, some teams sink into lethargy, feeling anxious about the future. Alternatively, the business may have been restructured or downsized, with the remaining team members feeling vulnerable for their own positions. Whatever the cause, it’s exactly at these times, that teams need to feel valued and motivated.

There are some simple things business owners and leaders can do to improve team motivation, and therefore business performance:

1. Create an atmosphere of trust

Trust enables people to admit to weaknesses and ask for help. Leaders can create this atmosphere by being open and honest with them, and not “punishing” weaknesses or mistakes.

Encourage team members to share with each other.

2. Involve the team in your planning

Talk to your team members about your business plans. Ask for their ideas, what they believe the key issues are, and how they can be solved.

This will also help build that atmosphere of trust.

3. Set clear realistic goals

The goals will come out of the planning. There will be goals for the team as a whole, but each team member should have their own set of objectives, which will feed into the team goal. Make sure the goals are “ SMART2 ”.

4. Get to know your team members as individuals

Spend time talking to each of your team members. Find out what’s important to them, both inside and outside work. Get to know their individual strengths, and their preferred way of working.

5. Recognise your team members individually

Having got to know your team members as individuals, use this knowledge. Everybody likes to be valued and recognised for their contribution. Give praise where it’s due.

6. Make sure each individual knows the part they play

Once goals have been agreed, then ensure progress is reviewed.

7. Seek feedback from team members

There are a number of ways of achieving this, during reviews with individuals, through regular team meetings, or on an ad hoc basis.

8. Concentrate on strengths

We all do better when we’re doing things we’re good at! You’ll get a better performance from a round pin in a round hole, rather than complaining that the square pin doesn’t fit!

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Keep your team informed. Consider how you make sure your team knows what’s happening. A daily or weekly briefing is a good starting point. And the best communication is always two-way! So make sure there’s opportunity for the team to contribute.

10. Make time to have fun!!

A happy team is a motivated team! “Fun” means different things to different people, so it might be about friendly competition – meeting targets. Or it might be taking time out to have a chat about non-work stuff. It doesn’t necessarily mean going for a drink after work.


  1. Sue Parsons is owner and principal trainer at Vámonos Training & Development, a training organisation specialising in team and leadership development. Sue has over 25 years experience in retail in management and training roles, and wide experience in the third sector, as volunteer, trustee and paid member of staff. She is a qualified MBTI Step 1 practitioner, and an associate member of the CIPD.
  2. SMART  goals or objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic / Relevant, Time bound
  3. Editor’s note: as Sue says, maintaining motivation is essential when times are tough, in times of change, and indeed throughout the life of a team.  Although motivation is not a main offering of my company, RiverRhee Consulting, it is one that comes into a lot of the work that we get involved in, in enhancing team effectiveness.  So it’s great to have the opportunity to host this blog from Sue on this theme alone.  Our latest RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter made several references to individual motivation and the role it plays in enhancing team performance, and a previous blog on employee engagement, may also be of interest to readers.

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