How to Inspire Your Team to Do Better Business in 2020

October 21, 2019 at 8:00 am
Two hikers climbing.

Teamwork works best when members are inspired and motivated to do their best.

2020 is right around the corner, and one of the things you probably want in the new year is a team that functions in better alignment with the company’s overarching business strategy. You can engage and inspire your team to more closely align with your overall business strategy for 2020 by taking some tangible steps and making some easy changes that won’t require a complete overhaul of how your team works.

Share the Vision Clearly

You may think you have communicated the company’s business strategy, but it’s a safe bet that some team members didn’t understand, weren’t paying attention, or missed the message somehow. It’s more common than you think for team members to be unaware of company goals and objectives.

A good place to start is by expressing the business strategy and goals in an interactive way that requires those on the team to state what they heard and show that they understood what was communicated. It will be important to reinforce the message periodically and often at first, with less frequency as time goes on.

Create a Culture of Honesty

Teams that don’t feel free to talk about problems so they can be resolved usually end up losing functionality over time as grievances lead to anger, repression, and fear about what will happen if they say what they really think.

Team members who feel they can say what is really on their minds and be honest in their questions, feedback, and even frustrations will contribute to a better team dynamic. When concerns are approached as opportunities to understand, create better relationships, and overcome obstacles to performance, they will draw the team closer together rather than tear it apart.

A team that understands its members better will feel more engaged and freer to do the work to the best of its ability, rather than wasting time trying to pretend nothing is wrong.

Improve the Working Environment

Within reason, do everything you can to make the work environment more pleasant for the team. For some workplaces, this may mean fixing broken lighting, seating, or other equipment so that it isn’t a distraction and works the way it was intended. In others, it could mean adding healthier snacks to the vending machines and converting an unused conference room into a fitness area.

While expensive perks or renovations may not be possible for all companies, there is usually something that can be done to make the work environment nicer for employees and get team members a little more excited about coming to work every day. If you’re not sure what to do, your team members will probably be more than happy to give some suggestions to get you started.

Ask Questions

There’s no better way to get a team engaged than by asking questions about its process. Most teams get to the point where they don’t even think about the process or how they do things. Asking the right questions can give team members a chance to re-examine their functioning so that they can make adjustments that improve the process going forward.

Questions that start with “how might we . . .?” will open minds up to new ideas and new ways of thinking about processes, which will lead to new and better ways of doing things.

Use Assessments

Open-ended questions don’t always provide the insight team leaders need. Sometimes team members are so mired in the status quo that they can’t break out without some help. Assessments can show where team members need to develop new skills, both technical and soft skills, so that you, as a team leader, know how to best structure and lead the team.

With a more accurate and objective view of each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, the team can function out of its combined strengths and work to improve areas of weakness, both individually and as a group. The result: improved functionality that leads to greater productivity that moves the team closer to meeting company goals and objectives.

Tap Into Creativity

Having the same meeting every week and doing things the same way every day can be efficient, but it doesn’t create engagement and inspiration for team members. Being willing to consider other ways of doing things and looking for ways to foster creativity can boost engagement, and team members will often come up with innovative solutions to problems and ways to improve on existing processes.

If boredom and monotony tend to be problems for your team, injecting creativity adds interest and keeps things fresh so that the team can keep growing and progressing toward alignment with company goals.

Group of colleagues meeting around a circle.

Creativity and outside-the-box thinking keep engagement high.

Make Team Members Feel Safe to Fail

It’s really easy to create an environment that pressures team members to always succeed and never fail. The pressure only increases the better your team performs, unless you intentionally work to show your team that failure is okay and can be a stepping stone to greater success.

Why does failure need to be a safe place for your team? Because many of the biggest successes only come after failure. Failure has lessons to teach that can’t be learned any other way. If your team never fails, never has hard challenges, it will never reach the level of success of which it is truly capable.

When team members feel safe to fail, they will take bigger risks that lead to bigger wins over time, through the process of learning from mistakes. Nobody wants to fail or make mistakes even under the best of circumstances, but team members will be stifled and stilted when they feel that failure will lead to punishment or negative consequences from their leaders.

Reward Success

While it’s important not to punish failure and honest mistakes by your team members, it’s equally important to reward success. Letting team members know ahead of time that success will be rewarded is one of the biggest motivators of behavior. We all tend to chase the carrot on a string.

There are different ways to reward your team, but the best way is usually to find out what they would like as a reward, within reason. Even companies with very limited budgets can offer a few hours of extra paid time off or a small party to celebrate the team’s success.

Verbal praise for a job well done is also free, but it is craved by just about every employee. It’s a difficult and lonely journey to spend the bulk of your waking hours doing work that is never acknowledged or praised. Team leaders who want to inspire and motivate need to do it with their words before just about anything else.

Stop Sapping Energy With Useless Meetings

Sure, some meetings are necessary. Too often, however, they feel like an exercise in futility where time is wasted that could have been spent on productive work. Meetings are okay, but useless meetings will undo your efforts to inspire and motivate faster than almost anything else you could do.

Let team members give honest feedback about meetings and make suggestions for how to streamline them to get more done in less time. Ask detailed questions about why they think particular meetings are useless and how the same objectives might be accomplished without a meeting.

It may also be possible to hold meetings over a chat service like Telegram or Slack rather than in person, allowing for less disruption and easier scheduling. People will usually waste less time on meetings that aren’t face-to-face and will find them less boring and time-wasting overall.

Re-evaluate Regularly

It’s all too easy to get off track when trying to stay aligned with an overall company strategy. Part of your team’s process should involve evaluating how the team aligns with company goals and culture, then making adjustments to your ways of doing things. For instance, if the company strategy is centered around customer needs, but your team process emphasizes results above relationships, you can ask the team for input about how to build stronger relationships with customers as part of the team process.

It’s almost impossible to re-evaluate too often. Far more likely is waiting for an annual review or even longer to re-evaluate how your team is progressing with company goals and strategies. Making evaluation part of your regular schedule, after every major project or at regularly scheduled intervals, will ensure that this part of the process doesn’t slip through the cracks in the busy-ness of conducting business.

As with everything your team does, you should get input from the team and make it as fun and painless as possible. The tight labor market has led to more frequent job-hopping and made it harder to snag top talent, so whatever you can do to keep engagement high will lead to better retention and fewer gaps in your team structure from members moving on to other opportunities.

With the help of Narish International, you can build higher-performing teams.