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5 Ways to Motivate your Staff in 5 Minutes

by Jan Feeley. Updated Dec. 4 2020

Jan Feeley, MSc
Motivated Staff, Team, Employees

Chances are you have been demotivated at some point in your career, and the challenges of motivation don’t stop when you begin to lead others. Not only do you have to ensure that you are energised each morning, but you have to do the same for countless employees or team members. Thankfully, the basics of motivation don’t require a PhD or major financial investments. Instead, starting to motivate your employees only takes a couple of minutes.

With that in mind, here are FIVE ways to motivate your staff, with each of them achievable in just FIVE minutes (max!):

Step #1: Recognise your Staff

It sounds simple, it is simple, and it can take as little as a few seconds. Gallup have found that 69% of employees feel demotivated because they don’t feel recognised, and 49% feel demotivated as they are undervalued. With that in mind, spend some time recognising your employees’ efforts, and begin by first ridding them of the demotivation they feel.

They may want some words of encouragement, the chance to learn new skills, or a little monetary bonus or prize for great performance. Whatever you choose, recognising your employees in a way that is meaningful to them will almost certainly motivate them to put in the work for you.

Step #2: Give Employees Autonomy

Micromanaging is nothing new, and chances are you aren’t exactly micromanaging employees, but could you give them a little more freedom? Allowing employees to work on things in a way that works best for them is a great idea, as it lets them work with minimal barriers whilst achieving the same (or better) results.

In case you aren’t convinced of how important this is, 86% of the Forbes ‘Best Companies to Work For’ offered employees flexible scheduling. This is also relevant for smaller companies too, and I know myself that when I’ve been given the option to work more flexible hours I’ve ended up achieving much more without the stress of hitting 9am and 5pm religiously every day. Why not chat to employees, see how they are finding current arrangements, and see if you can offer them a little more flexibility where it works for both of you? Letting somebody move their lunch or start time a little might be a one-minute conversation that pays off dividends later.

Step #3: Tell them WHY

It may be that you recognise your employees plenty, and they already have lots of flexibility to work, but they still don’t seem to understand why it is important to get things done well and quickly. Sorry, I’ve got to double check; have you told them why it matters?

Not only is knowing why something matters a generally good detail to have whilst working, but it is profoundly motivating. 72% of young job hunters today are looking for jobs that give them meaning, and self-perception tool Motivational Maps has found that the most common motivator in employees is the desire for purpose. By communicating to your team why something needs to be done in a certain way, or by a certain time, there is a sudden injection of purpose into their working day. They now have an aim, a goal, and a reason to keep going. Telling employees why their job matter is relatively easy, but they may lose motivation if they aren’t occasionally given a quick reminder!

Step #4: Break it Down

So you’ve got the recognition, they're performing at their best, and they know what the end goal is and why. So why might some of your employees still be struggling? Essentially, you can’t always work with the bigger picture, sometimes it is better to work piece by piece.

Imagine if I put every glass of water in your lifetime in front of you and told you to drink it. Overwhelming? Probably. Yet when we take this monumental task day by day and glass by glass, it somehow becomes manageable without any stress, anxiety, or burnout. Sometimes it helps to frame work more like this too!

Of course it is still important to have long term goals regarding revenue, engagement, and project success, but they don’t happen entirely overnight. If you still have a team member or two seemingly dragging their heels, they might simply be overwhelmed about the scale of some goals. Try breaking the goals down into manageable chunks, and suddenly the motivation required to get started is much easier to find.

Step #5: Understanding your Staff as Individuals

How well do you now what drives your staff? Considering everything above, knowing what drives an individual team member will help you to recognise them, reward them, and give them tasks relevant to their motivators. Who on your team likes to be creative and problem solve? Who wants to move into leadership? Do you have employees who primarily look forward to working alongside their colleagues? A wide range of questions (such as ‘what do you look forward to in your working week?’) can give you rich and valuable information about each member of staff. A conversation starting like that can take five minutes, put give you the chance to boost motivation permanently.

If you have an employee who you swear is impossible to motivate, but they really enjoy chatting with colleagues, why not encourage more teamwork? If that difficult employee mentions enjoying tackling new problems at work, why not see what extra training and learning you can offer them to push them more regularly? Even the most challenging employees can be motivated once you understand what specifically motivates them, and how to let them flourish using that!

If you are unsure about how to start these conversations or want to do more work on understanding how to reward, recognise, and motivate employees, there are many tools to do this. Within our team we use Motivational Maps to understand both what motivates us and our team. It’ll be no surprise to find out that I love being an expert in what I do, hence my love in researching and writing articles. Now I hope that you have found this as interesting to read as I have to write!

And that is how to motivate your employees in five minutes! I have a Master’s in Psychology, and so it is no surprise that many of these tips focus on communicating with employees… but it really works (and has done for me and my teams countless times)! Whether you are giving words of encouragement, reminding them why what they do matters, or chatting about what gets them out of the bed in the morning, you can start to motivate your team members in less than five minutes every day. Let me know how it goes, I can’t wait to hear about your great results!


Download the Staff Motivation Checklist

Our 18-Step Checklist that you can use to boost the performance, motivation, and happiness of your team.

Jan Feeley, MSc

By Jan Feeley. Updated Dec. 4 2020

Assistant Psychological Therapist by day, coach by evening and weekend! I'm a firm believer in collaborative working both clinically and more generally, and am keen to use people's expertise about themselves to make meaningful and energising changes in their life. Passionate about mental health, wellbeing, and self-care; determined to make a difference.

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