6 easy ways to inspire unmotivated teams

Motivation can be in short supply during times of stress. The good news is there are at least six reasonably easy ways to get your teams back to work.

Bored businesswoman sleeping in a meeting

Image: AndreyPopov, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Stress skips no one. Even the most productive and positive people struggle with a lack of motivation from time to time, especially when stress is a factor. No matter how talented or experienced you are, it's not possible to stay driven all the time. If you manage teams, you're bound to encounter team members or even entire teams who suffer from a lack of motivation.

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How do unmotivated teams affect projects?

Unmotivated teams can put a damper on the productivity of the entire project or company, not just the team. When one person is unmotivated and unproductive, it tends to rob others as well. Those people, in turn, affect additional people, and so it goes. The result can be a negative atmosphere throughout entire departments as pessimistic views spread.

A lack of motivation eventually leads to additional issues like increased absenteeism, conflict, and turnover. When one team member isn't motivated to do their work, it affects others as they start to become mentally and emotionally depleted due to the constant exposure to negativity. Eventually, the lack of motivation will reach your customers through lackluster service or lower quality products. 

Why does motivating teams matter?

Motivation drives interest levels and engagement at every turn, and the cost of disengagement to your organization can be staggering. In fact, employee disengagement is estimated to cost companies $450-$500 billion annually. When people are motivated, they are more engaged and able to focus on their work. They tend to care about the quality of their work and their peers, and are less likely to develop distrust and disinterest. 

These are not the only realities of a decrease in motivation. There are several proven statistics that confirm that there's a direct line between motivation levels, impact, and cost to businesses. The key is recognizing the impact and benefits of motivating unmotivated teams, then taking steps toward corrective action.

The benefits of improving team motivation

Team motivation is often an underestimated factor in the success of projects and company objectives as a whole. Well-motivated team members work harder than their peers. Highly motivated teams: 

  • Think more clearly and positively, even during tough situations

  • Share ideas without being prompted

  • Take a genuine interest in projects and the companies they work for

  • Are more focused on better customer service

How to  motivate your team

To be successful in your team motivation efforts, both you and your team must have a sincere interest in getting back any lost interest. These six things can significantly improve motivation. 

  1. Accurately identify the root cause of motivation issues to ensure the problems are being appropriately addressed rather than putting a bandage on things only to realize the issues still exist.

  2. Continually foster supportive relationships that help reduce issues with a lack of motivation right from the start. 

  3. Lead by example. It's nearly impossible to tell team members to be motivated if you aren't. Teams watch their project managers or leaders more closely than you might think, especially when everyone is under pressure. 

  4. Provide opportunities for input. No one likes the feeling that their input doesn't matter just because they don't have a formal leadership title. Team members need to be afforded the ability to share good ideas, especially ideas that affect them. 

  5. Set realistic strategies and goals that everyone can achieve. Lofty goals that are unachievable simply make no sense and serve to decrease motivation.

  6. Weave emotional intelligence into your culture. We are all people, after all, making it necessary to be able to display, explain, and manage emotions effectively. While this is easier said than done, it's important to recognize, accept, and practivce emotional intelligence in your work culture.

Team motivational strategies are an investment that pays off. Motivating team members benefits the employees, project managers, business leaders, other departments, and ultimately, customers.

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