How to Motivate your Team & Increase Productivity

Managers are constantly striving to increase their team’s productivity and engagement, and employees are constantly striving to move up the ladder, get a promotion, hit their sales goals etc. Most of us think that if we climb to the next rung of the ladder, we’ll be happier and more productive at work, and companies often reward this achievement by acknowledging employees with traditional rewards systems. Though these types of acknowledgements can show that you appreciate and value your employees in a positive way, the problem with getting employees to only focus on ‘moving up the ladder’ is that it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be more productive and can actually result in burnout. What’s often left out in this common conception of success is happiness. If a person is unhappy or lacks a positive attitude, research shows that he/she is less productive in all aspects of their life.

Happiness Leads to Increased Productivity

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, leading expert on human potential and founder of GoodThink, a happiness consulting firm that uses positive psychology to improve individual performance and cultivate a more productive workplace, says that when you’re happy you achieve more: Your intelligence increases, your creativity increases, your energy level increases and business outcomes improve. Achor’s studies show that a positive mindset is 31 percent more productive than a negative, neutral or stressed mindset. When your brain is positive, you’re 37 percent better at sales and Doctors are 19 percent faster and more accurate at making diagnoses.

Additionally, In 2005, a meta-analysis was conducted on the subject of happiness and business results. A Meta-Analysis is a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies designed to test the pooled data for statistical significance. Many meta-analysis review either all or nearly all of the literature on a given subject. This particular meta-analysis reviewed over 250 studies with more than 275,000 subjects, and definitively demonstrated that happiness can in fact be linked to business success. Contained within this body of research, happier people have demonstrated:

  • A 19% increase on task accuracy
  • Sales increases of over 30 percent
  • 15 less sick days taken annually
  • 15 percent increases in measured leadership effectiveness

Adding to this impressive list, Fast Company, in their May 2013 edition, contributed the following numbers related to a happier workforce:

  • 33% higher profitability (Gallup)
  • 43% more productivity (Hay Group)
  • 37% higher sales (Shawn Achor)
  • 300% more innovation (HBR)
  • 51% lower turnover (Gallup)
  • 50% less safety incidents (Babcock Marine Clyde)
  • 66% decrease in sick leave (Forbes)
  • 125% less burnout (HBR)

Thus, the common societal conception that if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, you’ll be happy, is backwards. Instead, happiness leads to success.  So the real question is: How can managers positively motivate their employees in order to increase happiness and productivity?

How you Can Positively Motivate your Team to Increase Happiness & Productivity

I am reminded of a time when I asked the great psychotherapist Jay Haley to help me with a client with whom I had made no progress. Jay picked up on my negativity, and stated that I needed to focus on whatever I could find that was positive about the person, “even if it was her shoes.” I remember laughing at the time, but he was so right. If I chose to believe this person was resistant, defiant or any other negative term, she would likely prove me right, or more accurately, I would prove me right. 

The above point can be illustrated in a study conducted on management styles. In the late 1960’s, MIT professor Douglas McGregor determined that managers ascribe to one of two basic theories of core human motivation. Theory one states that people work because you pay them, and if you don’t watch them carefully, they will stop working. Theory two purports that people work for intrinsic motives; They work harder and more effectively when not being ordered around or micro- managed. Ascribe to theory one and you will have employees who prove you right. They need constant supervision. Ascribe to theory two and you will have employees who work for the love of the work. Add another fact: Regardless of the motivation of the employee before working for a manager, in a very short time, they will become the type of worker the manager expects them to be. Wild. 

If you are a manager, and you are interested in having a more productive team, or if you are a father, mother, brother, sister, friend or colleague who wants to positively impact the people in your path each day, here are three questions to ask yourself every morning, according to Shawn Achor:

1. Do I believe the people in my life are capable and willing to learn and grow? 

2. Do I believe that my attitude will to some extent determine their success, failure or their ability to find meaning? 

3. Am I sending consistent messages of my belief in them through, word, action, tones, and in every other way possible?

So how can you start cultivating the attitudes and actions necessary for a positive response to these questions? Below is some advice on how to start.

Practice Positivity

By being mindful of your own presentation and making a conscious effort to exude a positive energy and vibe, you can make an immense impact on your employees and their overall happiness.  People remember how you make them feel.  People are going to react to whatever energy you infuse. A study conducted by LeadingTeams found that managers were the greatest influence on setting a positive office environment. According to the findings, 54 percent of workers said their leaders were the most important factors for positive environments. Leaders have the capability of setting the tone of the culture and it’s one of the areas that many leaders aren’t conscious of. However, it’s one of the easiest to practice. For some great positivity practices, visit our post “Why a Positive Presence is Essential to Leaders.”

Be Present

“Wherever you are at, be there.” This is our favorite, simple mantra that goes a long way for establishing engagement from employees. People want you to be present when they’re with you; They don’t want you looking at your phone or skimming an email while they’re expressing a concern to you. Attending fully to a person makes them feel good, valued and important. It makes them feel happy and cared for, and isn’t that what we’re going for after all? You can practice being present by doing a breathing meditation such as the one found here.

Cultivate Compassion

Being aware and attending to stress and suffering at work doesn’t weaken a team or company- it helps it. When you commit to leading with compassion, you invest time into your people and help them succeed. You support their growth, and clear their path of obstacles — whether that means streamlining a paperwork process to make it less stressful for your HR Department, or simply providing a warm environment for an employee to come into your office and ask for a day off to take their kid on a field trip. Responding compassionately to your employees not only improves their loyalty and performance, but also creates an environment that is open to learning, collaboration and innovation-all essential elements of business success.

Demonstrate Respect & Trust in your Employees

As we saw in the MIT study, if you subscribe to the theory that people work harder and more effectively when not being ordered around or micro- managed, they will prove you right and soon become the type of employee that you want them to be. If you trust them in completing their tasks, they’ll gain a sense of self-worth that will inevitably produce results-without you having to monitor their every move.

Express Gratitude

A sincere email thanking an employee for something they did can go a long way, and these small acts of gratitude can be practiced throughout your day. We can try one now: Please think of five things that you can express thankfulness for today. Please say them out loud. 

Make your Employees Feel Important & Part of the Big Picture

According to Anthony Smith, CEO and founder of Insightly. “The best benefit you can provide to your employees is the opportunity to make a difference through their work and help guide the course of the company. Benefits such as clear and frequent communication on company happenings, individual and department direction, and big-picture company direction, make all the difference in employee happiness.”

By being mindful of these things, you can start positively motivating your employees in order to increase happiness and productivity, while simultaneously improving your own happiness . That’s a win-win. 

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