1. Don’t ask WHAT or HOW….ask WHY

The vast majority of professionals spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their families and they spend half of their waking hours at work. Therefore, it is critically important to ensure that your job is not just a paycheck. If a team can connect on an idea or a cause together, they can collaborate together and in turn, be more productive together. Don’t be motivated by the question of what it is that you do or how you do it, be motivated by the question of why you do it. Know why you work and not only will you be better at what you do, it will rub off on your team.

  1. Don’t incentivize with $$$

There are a plethora of case studies that show time and time again that people who are motivated by monetary incentives, just don’t preform as well. This goes back to being motivated by the question of why you do what you do. If you give someone a cause to believe in and a goal, they will achieve it – but when you throw money into the equation, it is interesting how quickly and certainly someone will scurry to get to the finish line to get the money…not the goal. And scurrying toward something usually means it lacks accuracy as well as innovation. It has to come from above though; as the manager you have to find a cause that you work for, believe in it, and then communicate that belief to your team so that you can all achieve your goals together.

  1. Hire smarter

Oftentimes the hiring process is expedited due to a strong and immediate need, but it is very important to take the hiring process at a pace that allows for objectives and standards to be put in place, careful selection, and selection among a group, not just one person. A manager should know a little bit about how to do all of their subordinates’ jobs, but each subordinate should be the master and subject matter expert of their role. This means that they are better than you at something, and that is never a bad thing, just be sure you have at least enough knowledge of the subject to oversee and manage effectively.

  1. Trust

If you are going to hire people who are better than you, who own their role, be sure to let them. Trust that they have the ability and competency to own something – whether it is a small task or an intricate project, show them that their voice and role matter. As long as you as the manager have effectively communicated your goals to your team, trust that your team members can deliver on their part.

  1. Set and Manage expectations

Before you meet with your team to have the “expectations are rising” talk, be sure that you have clearly communicated what you expect from each individual team member. You cannot ‘expect’ them to meet certain goals or to follow some sort of suit if you haven’t communicated your goals, the company’s goals and how you expect that employee to contribute to the overall objective.

  1. Let your team work in the areas of their strengths, not their weaknesses

In school if you excel in English and History, for example, but you are failing in Math and Science– someone might say, “You need to study more Math and Science.” But what if you focused your attention, not on math and science, but on the areas that you are already really good at? That’s how you should look at the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. If there are areas where an employee absolutely shines, be sure to allocate as many tasks in that area as possible. When they impress you and you show it, they’ll naturally want to do even better and do more. If they lack in a certain area, don’t waste too much time trying to get them to transform.

  1. Educate

It is easy to say when someone has done something incorrectly, but before you criticize their work, ask yourself, “have I done everything I can to show them how to do it right?” Teach your team how to perform in a way that impresses not only you, but upper management as well. If something is submitted to you and it is wrong or they’re just missing the mark, don’t just tell them why it’s wrong, show them why its wrong and then take it a step further and show them how to do it right. Your small investment of time will quickly pay off and you’ll spend less time in the long run marking up their work.

  1. Be generous…at the right time

I spoke earlier about not motivating your employees with money, but there should be some incentives, right? Have lunch catered after a trying, but successful week. Or say your team stays really late one night to meet a deadline – let them go home early the next day or another day during the week. Save your monetary giving for when they really need it. We all have lives outside of work and unfortunately there can be pretty significant hiccups in life – help your employees then. On the other side of the coin, there are significant joys in life that require time off, or where your employee might need a little help. Giving a bit of financial aid when your employee truly needs it goes SO much further than giving an arbitrary bonus at the end of the quarter.

  1. Arrange your space for success

It is surprising how much your space contributes to your work… in a good OR bad way. Be smart about how you physically arrange your team as well as the actual working environment. Personally I don’t think it is smart to put a graphic designer in a small, cramped space with no windows – their physical space can oftentimes transcend into their mental space. The designer will probably feel like their head is cramped and that they are lacking inspiration. Another example would be putting a copywriter on or near the sales floor – they would probably have a difficult time concentrating. Some team members should be working in close contact and others shouldn’t; just be sure to have a justifiable reason for arranging your team a certain way.

  1. Being a good manager means being a part-time psychologist

Its no secret that we are all different; some of us may look the same or even sometimes act the same, but without a shadow of a doubt we are all very different people and we all respond to things differently. As a manager, you should never treat each person exactly the same. Of course you want to avoid any favoritism or any unfair treatment – but my point is that the way you deliver messaging to each person has to vary based on what you know about them. If the employee is timid or shy, being abrasive and hard on them might not work out in the long run. Some employees can handle that and at times event need that in order to succeed. What you might think is a motivating ‘Come to Jesus’ speech, may be quite the contrary and may end up demotivating them. Its also important to note that one-on-ones are the best place to exercise this – you don’t want to have a meeting with everyone and deliver inconsistent messaging.