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Motivating Your Coworkers (Even When Management Won’t)

We have all experienced life with a poor manager or boss.  When leaving isn’t an option, and you have things that need to get done, you might find yourself in the position of having to motivate the people around you.

Often, people turn to outside motivators (or bribes) to boost moral.  Competition, incentives, prizes, and picnics are all wonderful perks.  They don’t, however, keep people motivated into doing their job on a long-term basis.  Real motivation comes from inside each person.  Here are some simple ways you can start to turn your work environment into a breath of fresh air, and get your coworkers to start contributing more:

Positive Attitude:  Your own positive attitude is powerful.  People will follow your example in your company, and hopefully, start to follow in your footsteps when you aren’t around.  This means curbing gossip, the desire to complain with the rest of them, and even removing yourself from a negative conversation.

Listen:  At the same time you are being positive, and discouraging any bad-mouthing of the company in your presence, listening to your coworkers is key. Morale often slips into the mud when people do not feel like they are being valued.  People cannot feel valued if they don’t feel like their ideas are heard or considered.  If you have the chance to ask for and listen to feedback and opinions on a work issue, you might find your coworkers gaining a little excitement. Ask for help on a project, or ask how they would handle an issue.  If the idea is valid and useful, praise them in in public for such a great suggestion.

Clear Accountability:  When morale affects performance, and slackers start spending more time complaining than pulling their weight, it’s time for a clear outline of accountability.  Everyone needs to be very clear on who is exactly responsible for each part, and who has completed their tasks. Public accountability charts generate a little pressure for slackers to complete their duties. Following up through e-mail (detailing responsibilities), outlining the responsibility matrix in a meeting, or even having a progress chart on the wall can inspire people to stay on target.

Recognition:  In all these situations, the minute you notice a coworker making a different choice (remaining positive, completing something on time, giving a great suggestion) acknowledge it.  Reinforce their positive choice by a simple, “Thank you,” “Great suggestion,” or “I really appreciate your fast turn-around on that.”  Let people know how valuable you find them (especially when they are doing their work properly) or even how you value them personally (a sense of humor, attention to detail, organization, keeping the coffee stocked).

You control your own work destiny.  If you find yourself in a toxic place, try turning it around by employing these techniques–especially if you are in charge of a team.  When your team starts out-performing other projects or teams, your management capabilities will come to light.  Use this to leverage a promotion, a bonus, or on your resume for your next job.


One comment

  1. Great info! I totally agree with motivating coworkers. We do not have to wait around for someone else to take action!

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