Tag Archives: how to motivate a team

Motivating people to improve performance

inspiration

We have consistently observed that most high-achieving organizations are able to develop and sustain high performance cultures in which team members are inspired, engaged and highly motivated.

During a discussion with Human Resource, Quality, and Continuous Improvement leaders, various approaches to the motivational component of performance management were shared.

Individual v. Group
Some organizations focused on personal quantitative measurements to motivate individuals and to encourage and inspire them to achieve important goals. Tying these individual goals to the organization’s KPIs was cited as an effective way to align behaviors with goals and make sure everyone is aware of exactly what they are expected to do.

However, others said that group rewards and recognition were more effective than focusing on individual metrics. For example, one participant described how teamwork deteriorated to the detriment of the organization as a whole after his organization switched to individual metrics and rewards instead of rewarding everyone based on achievement of the company’s key strategic metrics.

Show me the money?
We also discussed experience with financial rewards as opposed to intrinsic rewards, such as recognition, and financial rewards did not necessarily produce the best results.

One participant explicitly pays people for participating on improvement teams in some of their facilities, while one of their Midwestern plants is prohibited from paying for participation. The Midwestern plant relies on intangible rewards such as recognition and “thank you notes.” Surprising to many, the Midwestern plant had a much higher rate of participation than the others, seeming to demonstrate that intangible or ‘intrinsic’ rewards can be more effective than monetary rewards.

Another organization found recognition, sometimes coupled with small gift cards, was an effective method for their organization.

Two Critical Factors
Everyone agreed that two keys to effective use of recognition as a motivational method are timeliness and making the recognition public.

Several examples involved peer-recognition programs, in which people were empowered to recognize one another by giving-out stars or some similar token when observing a co-worker exhibiting certain behaviors. When someone receives a certain number of stars, they get a gift card and the ‘star of the month’ gets a party, recognition, and a preferred parking space. It was noted that guidelines for the awarding of stars or tokens were set in advance.

Another perspective relative to timeliness involved making motivational and performance management activities an “everyday job,” and basing strategies on more than just past data. Over-reliance on past data when crafting improvement or motivational plans was referenced as working through the “rear-view-mirror.” A better approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact outcomes and future results.

Conclusions & Best Practices

  1. Performance Management and motivation must be about much more than individual performance measurement. As Deming said, over 90% of problems are caused by the system not the person. To manage performance, we must manage the system by which people, plant, process interact to produce results.
  2. Frequent observation and feedback is more helpful to people than formal annual reviews. Motivation and engagement levels were consistently rated as “much higher” when team members received frequent, consistent feedback on their work, and also when they felt they had input to improvement plans.
  3. Frequent communication about what an organization needs and wants greatly increases the odds that the organization will get what they need and want.
  4. Group rewards encourage teamwork, while individual rewards encourage an individual to optimize his or her own goals even if it may sub-optimize the organization as a whole.
  5. Tying money directly to performance appraisal can be a two-edged sword – raising stress and reducing the intrinsic rewards and personal satisfaction from doing a good job for the team.
  6. Intrinsic rewards tend to increase motivation over time as opposed to financial rewards. Recognition is among the most effective. The keys to effective use of recognition as a motivational method are timeliness and making the recognition public.
  7. Avoid performance management in the “rear-view mirror.”

Motivating for Performance

Our previous post referenced how high-achieving organizations are able to develop and sustain high performance cultures in which team members are engaged and highly-motivated.

During a recent discussion with Continuous Improvement leaders, various approaches to the motivational component of performance management were shared. Some organizations focused on the individual quantitative measurements to motivate individuals and to encourage them to achieve important goals. For example, tying individual goals to the organization’s KPIs was cited as an effective way to align behaviors with goals and make sure everyone knows exactly what they are expected to do.

However, others said that group rewards and recognition were more effective than individual metrics. For example, one participant described how teamwork deteriorated to the detriment of the organization as a whole after his organization switched to individual metrics and rewards instead of rewarding everyone based on achievement of the company’s key strategic metrics.

We also discussed experience with financial rewards as opposed to intrinsic rewards, such as recognition. Financial rewards did not necessarily produce the best results.

One participant explicitly pays people for participating on improvement teams in some of their plants, while one of their Midwestern plants is prohibited from paying for participation. The Midwestern plant relies on intangible rewards such as recognition and “thank yous.” Surprising to many, the Midwestern plant had a much higher rate of participation than the others, seeming to demonstrate that intangible or ‘intrinsic’ rewards can be more effective than monetary rewards.

Another organization found recognition, sometimes coupled with small gift cards, was an effective method for their organization.

Generally, it was agreed that the keys to effective use of recognition as a motivational method are timeliness and making the recognition public.

One successful example involved a peer-recognition program, in which people were empowered to recognize one another by giving-out stars for helping an internal or external customer. When someone receives a certain number of stars, they get a gift card and the ‘star of the month’ gets a party, recognition, and a preferred parking space. It was noted that guidelines for the awarding of stars were set in advance.

Another perspective relative to timeliness involved making motivational and performance management activities an “everyday job,” and basing strategies on more than just past data.

Over-reliance on past data when crafting improvement or motivational plans was referenced as working through the “rear-view-mirror.” A better approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact outcomes and future results.

Conclusions

  • Performance Management and motivation must be about much more than individual performance measurement. As Deming said, over 90% of problems are caused by the system not the person. To manage performance, we must manage the system by which people, plant, process interact to produce results.
  • Frequent observation and feedback is more helpful to people than more formal annual reviews. Motivation and engagement levels were consistently rated as “much higher” when team members received frequent, consistent feedback on their work, and also when they felt they had input to improvement plans.
  • Frequent communication about what an organization needs and wants greatly increases the odds that the organization will get what they need and want.
  • Group rewards encourage teamwork, while individual rewards encourage an individual to optimize his or her own goals even if it may sub-optimize the organization as a whole.
  • Tying money directly to performance appraisal can be a two-edged sword – raising stress and reducing the intrinsic rewards and personal satisfaction from doing a good job for the team.
  • Intrinsic rewards tend to increase motivation over time as opposed to financial rewards. Recognition is among the most effective. The keys to effective use of recognition as a motivational method are timeliness and making the recognition public.
  • Avoid performance management in the “rear-view mirror.”

Encouraging Your Team

motivation2As business leaders, project managers, and CI leaders endeavor to manage,  motivate, and engage their teams,  many incorporate some form of a rewards and recognition program.

Among the key objectives of doing so are gaining increased commitment or greater discretionary effort from the team, promoting desired behaviors, or achieving specifically measurable results.

Regardless of objective, during a best practices exchange by a group of CI and business leaders it was agreed that recognizing and rewarding employees has a strong impact on sustainable behavior and results — a perspective that aligns with the findings of numerous studies; or, as summarized by one of the participants, “People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.” (Unknown)

The group also  indicated the following criteria would yield the best results when creating and implementing a rewards and recognition strategy:

  • Keep it simple: one of the most cost effective methods of all seemed to be the simple thank you note.
  • Extrinsic rewards programs require clear metrics, auditing, and mindful design to ensure a focus on the rewarded metrics will not lead to deterioration of teamwork or other facets of the organization due to things such as jealousy or resentment.
  • Be specific: it is much more effective to recognize a team or a person for a specific result or accomplishment than for generally “doing a good job.”
  • Be timely: the closer in time the reward or recognition is to the accomplishment being recognized, the more impact it will have
  • Communicate widely: Publicity helps extend the celebration and communicates widely what is valued by the organization. Similarly, the way in which rewards are presented has a significant impact on how recipients value their rewards. Make a splash! And DO involve organizational leaders in the presentation.
  • Be consistent: Be sure that you respond to comparable accomplishments in comparable ways.
  • Be authentic: Sincerity in words of appreciation and praise are essential to an effective system of reward and recognition.
  • Use team rewards to encourage better organization-wide results.

Entrepreneurial Spirit, Engagement & Continuous Improvement

entrepreneurIn a recent Pulse article, David Chung, an expert in Business Model Design and Leadership Development, suggests “entrepreneurial spirit” is a critically-important factor for team performance.

“Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset that actively seeks out change rather than waiting to adapt to change,” says Chug. “In other words, it’s a super positive mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation and continuous improvement.”

He also states that entrepreneurial spirit is all about taking ownership and pride in your organization, and that while it can be classified as a culture of the workplace, both team leaders and members must also take responsibility for creating and maintaining it.

Sounds very much like “engagement” doesn’t it?

Chung also suggests there are five ways to go about creating and maintaining this level of engagement or entrepreneurial spirit:

  1. First, WORK AS an owner. All team members should feel empowered to make decisions–and decision-making processes and approvals need to be simplified. Leaders may need training in how to hand off the reins.
  2. Second, WORK ON some crazy ideas. At some of the most innovative companies they have a policy that everyone should feel free to throw out any idea they have, no matter how grand or seemingly unattainable.
  3. Third, WORK WITH cross-functional colleagues. One of the reasons smaller companies are naturally more entrepreneurial is because of this – the team is small enough that everyone has a voice and input on everything, even if it’s not part of their core responsibility or strength. As companies get bigger, departments tend to be segmented off from other departments, losing the diversity of ideas, and instead working in silos.
  4. Fourth, WORK AS a role model. As with most elements of a great team spirit, the entrepreneurial spirit has to come from the top management team or business owner.
  5. Fifth, as the team leader, TREAT YOURSELF AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, then your team members will believe they are working in the entrepreneurial team.

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