People & Human Resources

Help! I don’t know how to motivate my team

Aunty B /

I need your help motivating my sales team.

When I hired them – most joined me between 12 and 18 months ago – they were energetic and full of ideas. I remember thinking my recruiting had paid off and couldn’t wait to start seeing the result flow through to the company’s accounts.

But now I feel like I have a bunch of unmotivated and ungrateful people working for me. No one makes suggestions in any of our sales meetings anymore and I can’t remember the last time one of them approached me with a new idea, let alone looked pleased to be arriving for work each day.

Even when I approach them with a new idea or new project I would like them to work on, I’m met with a disinterested ‘OK’ before they turn away and keep working on what they were doing.

Needless to say, our sales figures are on a downwards trend.

I try to help them whenever I can, always pitching in and letting them pass on anything that is too hard to me. I’m a big believer in helping my staff “get things over the line” and it’s not like I sit back in my office just dictating orders.

What can I do to make them motivated again?

Paul,

Adelaide

 

Dear Paul,

I commend you for trying to give your staff the motivation they need to do their jobs well, but I fear you’re not going to like my answer to your problem.

You need to look in the mirror. Despite the best intentions, I think your eagerness to help your employees has had the opposite effect. They know you will come in at the end of the project and seal the deal. They know you will take over the “hard” jobs. And they probably feel like it’s not worth suggesting any new ideas because their ideas might not be as good as yours.

Leadership speaker and author Liz Wiseman talks about this issue in her book Multipliers. Sometimes managers and business owners with the very best intentions can become “accidental diminishers” of the people around them. By always coming to your team’s “rescue” or taking the challenges away from them, they learn to feel their contributions are not worthy, and in turn, put less effort into their work.

Talk to your team. Set challenges for them but be prepared to let them meet them on their own. Always be there to help, of course, but only when they need it. And as Wiseman says, remember to give the pen back once you have helped.

Be Smart,

Your Aunty B

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Aunty B

I’m SmartCompany’s resident Agony Aunt. Have a problem to solve? Just ask. @IamAuntyB #AuntyB

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