Motivation is one of the most important components of teambuilding.
Often entrepreneurs, preoccupied with product development, do not give it much thought. However, motivated employees who are genuinely interested in what they do are far more beneficial than those who are not.
I have developed a few basic rules that may help keep the team in order.
1. It is important, especially for key employees, to like what they do
It’s very difficult to continue forcing yourself to do something you don’t like, especially if the job requires creativity. Different people are motivated by different things, such as money and even addictions. However, real motivation can only be sustained by a genuine interest in the activity even though monetary compensation can play a certain role.
But there is an important point to remember: although one may have many sources of motivation and stimuli, it is best to focus on only one. Otherwise there may be a conflict of interest. I usually reach my best results when focused on one specific task within a clearly defined area. This way I am able to put aside everything else and come back to them at a later stage.
2. Personal motivation often goes against the team’s motivation or even the team itself
In other words, someone’s personal interests can go against the company goals. In this case, everyone suffers.
Just like in sports, a hockey player may wish to score a goal all by himself (without much of a chance), or alternatively pass the puck to other players, thus increasing the likelihood of scoring. Using another hockey example, the five players on the ice work together either to score a goal or defend the current score. But in both cases they work together for the good of the team.
In business, when someone is focused on their personal ambitions, it hurts the company. Sadly, it happens often. Just recently I had to explain to one of the department managers that common goals and cooperation with other teams must be prioritised, even though in his view his department’s role was the most important in the company.
3. Healthy communications play an important role in creating a motivating environment for employees
Teams, departments, and workgroups are important “pieces of the puzzle” in an organisation. If one of the pieces is somehow detached or broken and does not communicate with others, it becomes detrimental for all. Team cooperation must remain constant.
For example, if marketing does not talk to engineering, sooner or later it will create tension affecting the entire organisation.
There are many situations, which can potentially lead to a crisis. For example, the unwillingness of one department to collaborate or support another department when it struggles financially could create a serious problem. Only the leader can afford to be uncompromising, but even then, not always.
4. Talented but unmotivated people must be let go
Such people erode and disable functioning teams. Sooner or later, every manager has to deal with this. If an employee is unproductive and unmotivated — it’s an easy task to fire them. But what do you do if a valuable worker has an extremely negative attitude? How long do you wait? I’ve been struggling to find a definitive answer for this question for a long time now.
A Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen gave an interesting example in his book “The South Pole”. He said how in one of his expeditions he decided to leave behind a specialist who was very negative. Such a person would do more harm instead of being useful, he said.
I experimented with this for a long time and came to the conclusion that even the most talented, but negative employees must be fired, the sooner the better. To change someone, especially someone talented, is very difficult. But the likelihood of that person causing problems is very high. For example, this person may decide to leave the company when you most need him or her.
5. Poor motivation is like a virus
If a team member is slacking off, there will be others who would follow his example. Before long the whole team will be unmanageable. It is similar to civil unrests where an unhappy soul poisons an entire community, setting off a chain reaction, which affects people who in turn affect others. It hurts the entire business and the leader must be quick to make the right decisions to deal with this.
Signs of poor motivation include disrespect of leaders and other team members and heightened self worth. It’s difficult to “fix” such people. Therefore it is often easier to localise them.
All team members must respect each other and look for compromises. It is a bad sign if someone is not willing to work with others. Keeping track of this is the leader’s job and this is one of the main rules.
Serguei Beloussov is the CEO of Acronis, a global leader in backup and disaster recovery with revenues over $150M. He’s also the Senior Partner at Runa Capital venture fund, and Executive Chairman of Parallels.