Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey, CMP
Lindsay is the CEO of Nifty Method Marketing & Events. A lively event professional armed with a very diverse background in the events industry and specializes in topics such as inbound and event marketing, attendee engagement, and so much more.
Whether you're onboarding a new technology platform, exciting your customer service call center to focus on client happiness, or encouraging your sales team to beat last year's revenue goals, motivation is at the forefront of most brands' minds.
Why is motivation important in the workplace?
Think about the purpose of “doing business” in general. It’s all about exercising creativity and thoughtfulness to solve your customers’ problems. It’s about providing products and services that make customers happy and turn a profit for your company while they’re doing it.
When employees have a real-world understanding of how they’re touching and improving other people’s lives, they’ll work even harder and smarter, seeking out new solutions and generally improving your company’s efficiency and bottom line.
So, the $64,000 question then becomes how do we better motivate our employees?
1. An Incentive Travel Program so that they have a preferred goal to work towards
Though financial rewards such as bonuses, cash, and merchandise are common rewards and motivators, studies shown that they are far less effective than non-cash incentives like incentive travel. What is incentive travel? It is programs where your top performers are awarded with an all-expenses-paid travel reward.
In fact, the Incentive Research Foundation discovered that travel is the most preferred award for high-producing employees. Other research conducted by the Incentive Travel Council and the Site International Foundation found that more than 95% of employees believe they are more motivated by travel incentives than by higher pay levels.
Furthermore, 72% of people who earn a travel reward feel increased loyalty to their company. But if that doesn’t convince you, consider the fact that a well-crafted travel incentive program can increase productivity by 18% and produce a 112% ROI. If you wanted to achieve that kind of success with a cash incentive, you’d need to increase your employees’ base compensation by a staggering 8.5%!
2. A Project Management platform so that they have clearly set expectations and autonomy
Not as sexy as international travel that someone else pays for, we agree. But a project management platform can be a cure for burnout while providing your team with crucial autonomy. Micromanaging kills motivation in a snap. When tasks and milestones are clearly outlined and monitored, the team is empowered to execute exceptionally and the manager can better focus on the big picture.
The good news is that free and low priced project management tools are easy to find and adopt. And if this is the first time a project management platform is being introduced to your team or department, it also allows for thoughtful conversations around figuring out the best way to incorporate the new tool to their department, which will also likely force the team to slow down, think through the processes and people they're working with in their immediate and lateral project teams to better ultimately get fast and effective results for the organization.
Get started simply with a document management system like Google Drive which allows them to place projects (with their associated collateral and team information) into folders, then transition to one of the tools to better calendar and manage the work flow processes of the team.
3. An Email Filter/Rules Matrix to help them determine what's highest priority
I maintain that inbox zero is the worst motivation strategy known to humankind. Though I admit it's because my email box will never likely achieve it, it is without a doubt an unrealistic expectation I have of myself that de-motivates me every time I see the inbox numbers continue to climb above 200.
Most of our employees are also balancing multiple priorities and punitive email inboxes. Help them (and yourself) regain motivation and happiness that isn't based on an email inbox number by introducing a priority rules matrix. it can be as simple as:
- Highest priority email looks like this and needs to be answered in [insert time frame here].
- Average email priority looks like this and needs to be answered in [insert time frame here].
- Other email, like a cc or group email looks like this and needs to be responded to/or not responded to based on these general criteria.
Whether your email is set up on Outlook or Gmail or another provider, start by setting up customizable filters/rules that direct mail where it needs to go. You can color code messages to denote priority.
You could also sign up for an email system like AwayFind (starts at $4.99 a month), which lets important emails find you by re-routing and re-prioritizing your messages based on important senders and topics.
For instance, if you’re expecting an urgent email from a customer or vendor, you can configure AwayFind to send an alert only when you receive a message from the person you specified.
Two other invaluable tools that I've found that help me keep email under control is Unroll.Me, which I periodically use to unsubscribe from mailing lists that I'm not finding as much value in, and Sanebox (similar to AwayFind), which intuitively set up the filters/rules, prioritization, and subscription pieces that you manually do in the systems mentioned previously.
4. A Reminder platform and/or strategy to help them meet their priorities
In a perfect world, you would remember everything. Also in this perfect world you would not use your email box as a to-do list. The world, alas, is not likely perfect. To help combat this, reminder tools that help us make order and sense out of our day is crucial.
Start simply. Use a paper planner. This sounds very old school, but I've found the act of writing it down works better sometimes than automated reminders. Using my weekly and monthly planner, I can also see at a glance everything that is happening in my world.
However, I also have many people who impact (and add to) my day, week, month, and year. So, I back up my paper planner with electronic tools that integrate with my calendar and syncs to my project management system. This allows my team to see what I'm planning to do, sets reminders about what's a priority, and connects those email "to-do" lists.
Depending on your email server and project management system, I recommend tools like Boomerang and Followupthen, which provides a reminder activator ping that you might need to be reminded of to do that very important thing.
5. A Productivity Management platform to help them focus when necessary
Properly assigned projects and deadlines increase productivity. However, it won't always solve issues connected to motivation or distraction, which means your project management tool isn't always the best solution for productivity management. It helps with prioritization. Therefore, having productivity management tools close at hand to help motivate your team on those priorities most near and dear can be priceless.
I have an internet cat problem that is also complicated by an imagined multi-tasking solution. Which really means that sometimes I fall down a YouTube black hole filled with cat gifs and Graham Norton clips.
Because of this, I like FocusBooster, which for just $2.99 a month, and allows me to shut the interwebs out for a bit. It helps me stay completely focused on the task at hand for 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break. I can customize it from 0 to 90 minutes, if 25 minutes isn't enough or is too much. I can then integrate my results and projects into my focus "HQ" which eventually shows me a dashboard of what clients and projects I'm spending time on and how much progress I'm making. It's awesome and simple to use.
Perhaps your team needs something a little more hard hitting? Cold Turkey is your mother transformed into an app, that blocks time, websites, and tells you when time is up. It's available through a free version with more features added up to $14.99 a month.
6. A Coffee Break Tool to help them get away when necessary
Finally, maybe your team just needs a break. Checking your email or being online all the time is actually detrimental to productivity. Just like we need a vacation, we also need to unplug.
For the busy employee who might be eating lunch at their desk and forget to get up and stretch? Have them set times for coffee (or their beverage of choice) by plugging it into the Coffee Break app and then enforces it through a mechanism in its programming that simply refuses to do anything else until you rest your eyes and take a break.
Need more than a coffee break? Try the free or low priced apps like Freedom, which will block your access to the internet (across all of your devices) for up to 8 hours.
By being cognizant of motivation, we build the success of our teams, our future leaders, and our organization. What are other tools you've used to nurture and motivate your team to success?