How to Motivate Your Team and be a Better Leader
4 tips to learn how to motivate your team. Master this and you'll quickly improve your leadership skills.
Originally published in the 5/13/2020 newsletter
Take the time to understand your people. Whether it's through 1:1s, coffee or happy hours, development plans, or just spending time together, the key is to try and understand what they care about. Don't be afraid to ask questions to help get a sense of what's important to your employee, both personally and professionally. A few questions I always like to ask is, "where do you want to be in the next year? What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years? What goals do you have? (personal or professional)" Everyone has their own outlook on life and what they want to achieve within their careers so finding out what drives them will help you inspire them to do their best work.
As a leader, it's important to give credit when credit is due. It's a gratifying experience to know that your hard work is valued and appreciated. Recognizing key employee contributions on a public stage can go a long way towards boosting morale and building trust. It's easy for the folks in higher profile roles to receive the praise and recognition so it's important for us to highlight the folks that are working tirelessly to deliver, especially the ones that don't seek the spotlight.
Commit & Deliver:
Make your expectations as clear as possible and illustrate what lies ahead should the employee deliver. Whether it be a promotion, merit increase, bonus, equity, etc., tie the reward back to the employee, based on what they may have articulated is most important to them. It's important to come through when the results are equal to or better yet exceed expectations.
Trust & loyalty. They are a bold but misunderstood set of terms. There is no better way to build trust than to show your team that their interests lie ahead of your own and that you'll do anything possible for their well being. Whether it be protecting them when things don't go well or giving them credit in times of triumph, a leader must understand that nothing is possible without the team. They are the most critical variable when building a successful company and they should be treated and valued as such. In short, treat them like family (family you actually like).
Another essential method of building trust lies in the act of your own trust of the employee. Do you trust the individual you hired to do the job? Did you properly train and set clear expectations with your employee? Do they have the competence and tools to succeed? If the answers are yes, then give them the ability to do their best work by getting the hell out of the way. Great leaders have the ability to identify talent, assess the strengths and weaknesses of their team, and then place their team members in situations that highlight their strengths, minimize exposure to their weak areas, thus amplifying the probability of success for the individual and the overall team. It's important to coach and mentor along the way to help reinforce goals and develop areas of opportunities, but I'm a firm believer that people develop the most when they're given the freedom to execute, iterate, and learn along the way.
Just win, baby:
Leaders are like coaches. The best coaches understand the player's talent as well as what motivates them. They then outline a gameplan based on the strengths of their players, the weakness of the opposition, and create strategies to optimize or alter these plans in realtime based on the situation. The result of this type of deep understanding can be extremely rewarding and can lead to achievements that were once never thought possible. Use these formulas to develop your own leadership persona and start celebrating incremental success with your team. There's nothing better than working together towards a common goal and winning against all odds.
This post was written by Randy Fernando. Once a month Level Up will deep dive into a subject with an industry expert and send out a long form article.
Fernando started his career in finance and quickly realized that he wanted to broaden his impact. Even though his technical background was non-existent, he started a fintech company and was driven by the desire to provide everyone with a simple and affordable way to save for retirement.As a first-time founder, he grew and lead his start-up to a successful acquisition by Acorns. Since then, he's worked at Acorns as Head of Invest Products and is now Head of Product While his resume is plenty impressive his leadership skills are what truly sets him apart. He's unanimously respected and admired by his team members, leads by example, sets high expectations for his team, and mentors anyone who needs it.