The art of motivation

The world of work has changed more in the last three years than in the last century and consequently we need to rewrite the rules of how we engage with our teams, particularly now that many of them are working in a hybrid set-up. So, how do you succesfully motivate a remote team and unleash their potential? Jeremy Campbell offers some pertinent pointers

Increasingly, businesses are turning towards a six-step model to turbocharge their performance. This focuses on those everyday actions that individuals need to take to make a difference and gives team members ownership of their goals. It aims to eliminate distractions and is designed with the fragmented, hybrid team in mind.

  • Be clear on the goal

It’s important to be clear on what the big goal is for your team and why it matters. Picture the benefits and set out what success looks like. Explain what it would mean for you and the team if this goal was achieved. Being able to tap into this motivation when things get tough is really helpful. Goals should feel challenging, so don’t worry if you’re not sure if it is achievable at the outset.

We cannot guarantee the outcome so we need to shift our focus to things we can control, the everyday actions that each team member will take to try and reach the goal. This approach is also used by Olympic athletes to give them the best chance of winning a gold medal.

  • Act small and often

If we do too much at the start of the sprint it can be hard to sustain, and the initial enthusiasm fades to nothing. Consistency is the key and will have a greater impact than sporadic bursts of activity. If we think we need to spend a significant amount of time on our actions for them to be effective, and we don’t have time to carry that out, then we often do nothing. This is called ‘all or nothing’ thinking and is one of many thinking errors that humans make. It feels less overwhelming when we make actions bite-sized and taking a few minutes to make the right action every single day make a big difference.

Taking action every day creates a habit, which becomes automatic and takes up less mental energy. Completing an action every day boosts our self-esteem and our confidence grows. To make sure your everyday action is realistic, ask yourself the following question, “How confident am I out of 100 that by this time next week I will still be following through on this everyday action, with everything I have going on in my life?” If the number is less than 70 per cent, you need to adjust it to make it easier to complete.

  • Track and measure

Humans like to see visual signs of progress, so being able to track your actions allows you to do this. A visual record helps to increase motivation levels. When you have a streak of actions you won’t want to break it. We are often not great at remembering what we have done, so having a visual record reminds us of how much we have achieved. Studies show that monitoring your goals increases the chances of success.

  • Progress not perfection

The drive for perfection is often a barrier to making progress towards our goals. Perfection is unrealistic or undefined, yet we still seek to achieve it. The desire to want to do something perfectly can stop us doing anything, with the fear of getting it wrong freezing us in our tracks. If you recognise this barrier, that is the first step to overcoming it. It might feel uncomfortable to start with, but you can still take action.  Progress will not always be in a straight line, sometimes it might feel like you take one step forward and two back. What matters is progress over the whole period so be ready for the bumps in the road and stick to taking action every day.

  • Stay accountable

The whole team is working towards the same common goal so use the power of the tribe to help you. We are social creatures, so having support and accountability from others is a powerful tool to help you stick to your everyday actions. During this period you can share your experiences and challenges, ask for support and recognise your colleagues for their efforts. This will create energy and drive around the big goal and help you feel part of something exciting. Peer-to-peer coaching is a great way to gain support and advice and you will realise you share many of the same challenges. No one has all the answers, so sharing ideas makes the team stronger than the sum of its parts.

  • Celebrate your wins

Our brains are wired to notice losses and things that don’t go our way much more than progress. We look at the top of the mountain and focus on how far we must go rather than celebrating how far we have already climbed. We can ‘disqualify the positive’ by convincing ourselves the progress isn’t good enough. When we do celebrate the wins, we get a boost from the reward circuits in our brains with feel good neurotransmitters such as dopamine. This makes us want to repeat the action to get the same reward again. Practice giving yourself a mental high five whenever you take an action or make progress.

Finally, remember successful people consistently do what others only occasionally do. This is the way to boost performance in the hybrid world.  With the right commitment, the six-step approach simply can’t fail.

Jeremy Campbell is an expert on behavioural science, an executive coach and CEO of performance improvement and technology business, Black Isle Group

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