Motivating team members is one of the most significant challenges for leaders in any organization. Despite the presence of a serving spirit among staff and volunteers, it is sometimes difficult to adequately fire their enthusiasm, participation, and commitment. Misunderstanding the true nature of motivation is a key part of this problem. Motivation cannot be turned on and off at will like a faucet. The trouble with this on-again, off-again approach is that it overlooks the pivotal role of relationship building. It simply is not possible to motivate people in an enduring way if you have not built a close relationship with them.
Building Relationships Within Your Service Team
Instead of asking, "How can I motivate the members of my service team?" ask, "How can I build a closer working relationship with my fellow team members?" This calls for a relationship-building life-style, described in the following practical guidelines:
1. Determine a vision and mission for your service team, but first determine how important it is to the overall mission of your organization. How well will your team’s service be supported by the organization?
2. Hold a team recruiting meeting. One on one, without high pressure, find out whether each person feels called to serve, is competent, and has the time necessary to devote to your service mission.
3. Create a niche (special place) for each member on the team.
4. Carefully develop and communicate job descriptions for each team member. Specifically, this should include a particular job, approach, length of service, names of other team members, expected performance, and ways to evaluate themselves.
5. Promote success by equipping and training the team members. Help them understand through teaching and demonstration (explicit example) how they can do a good job.
6. Let team members personally participate in running the show. Consult with them when making decisions, remain open-minded and willing to change, help them buy into what the team is trying to accomplish.
7. Listen, Listen, Listen! Be alert to and create opportunities for listening. Let others "unload" on you before you "unload" on them.
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Periodically remind people of the team vision and goals. Keep members up-to-date on team progress and activities. Help them share their personal experiences, feelings about events, personal joys and frustrations, and appreciation for one another. Get feedback from team members on what they are doing and accomplishing for both the service team and the organization.
9. Encourage and praise team members individually and as a group, for what they do or try to do, and for who each person is. Encourage and praise through listening, compliments, recognition, fellowship, follow-up, and humor.
10. Minimize the demands you make on team members. Keep time and meeting demands reasonable. Respect the fact that there are many claims on their "free" time.
11. Help members of your team hold themselves accountable for performance. Goals and deadlines must be set, progress reports made, and follow-up taken. Any criticism of team member performance should center on their actions, not on them personally.
Phil Van Auken