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How to Keep Team Motivation High

How to Keep Team Motivation High

How to Keep Team Motivation High

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Team motivation is one of the driving factors in a company’s success, but it can be difficult to come by. We turn to professional experts, scientific approaches, and real case studies to identify 7 proven methods of keeping team motivation high.

Fewer factors are more important to the success of your small team than motivation. Figures from Gallup tell us that only 13% of employees are engaged at work — this can lead to low levels of employee satisfaction, a poor sense of commitment, and underperformance. 

There’s a lot at stake, but how exactly do you keep motivation high within your team? 

In this post, we’ll look at everything from psychological theories to company success stories to find 7 key ways to improve team motivation.

7 Ways to Keep Team Motivation High

  1. Exercise transparency with your team
  2. Apply Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation
  3. Recognize your team’s desire to be heard
  4. Celebrate your organization’s purpose 
  5. Avoid micromanaging your team
  6. Understand McClelland’s psychological theories of motivation
  7. Explore popular scientific approaches to motivation on your own

Before we dive into the tactics that you can use to keep motivation high, we should first quickly go over exactly why it’s worth investing in those tactics.

Why Is Motivation So Important (Especially for Small Teams)?

Maintaining high team motivation can be tricky, so it’s helpful to know what the payoff is. Here are a few reasons why motivation is so important for small teams:

Create a Sense of Culture

According to Deloitte, 88% of employees agree that a distinct workplace culture is crucial to success. 

Motivation is the foundation of any strong culture — you need your team members to come into the office energized and ready to contribute to a thriving and dynamic culture that values success.

Enhanced Employee Satisfaction

Finding and retaining the right talent while managing projects is very challenging. Motivation will inevitably wane as time goes on, so it’s important that you develop a strong strategy to motivate and energize your employees. 

If you do this effectively, you’ll be sure to enhance your employee satisfaction and retain your best talent.

Secure Higher Levels of Commitment

In small teams, emotions and culture are amplified. If a single member of your team is demotivated and upset, it can create negative feelings within your team and result in lower levels of commitment. 

However, if your team members are motivated and happy, those positive feelings will energize your team and get you through even the toughest times.

Achieve Better Results

Motivated teams are more happy, creative, and hard-working. Ultimately, higher levels of motivation will result in better teamwork among your team, and in turn, better results for your company. 

Take the time to motivate and energize your small team and you’ll be sure to see the best results possible.

7 Tactics to Keep Motivation High

Now that we understand exactly what’s at stake for small teams, let’s explore 7 proven tactics that you can use based on real case studies.

1. Exercise Transparency With Your Team

In this case study, we have the opportunity to learn about the recent inner-workings of Xerox and how they inspire motivation among the team.

Motivation at Xerox


 In 2009, Ursula Burns became the first African-American woman CEO at an S&P 100 company. She started her career with Xerox over 30 years prior as a graduate intern and worked her way through the company over the decades.

Since taking on the role of CEO, Burns has referred to the Xerox team as a family. In terms of motivating her team, Burns believes it’s critical to let her employees know what her own intentions and priorities are.

A high level of transparency like Burns’ can get everybody on board and secure buy-in at all levels of the company.

If you’re looking for a way to motivate your own small team, consider taking a page from Burns’ book, and put a strong emphasis on transparency

During regular team chat sessions, make a point of sharing your priorities and goals with your team, and you’ll be able to move forward as a cohesive unit.

2. Apply Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation

Frederick Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation suggests that in order to truly motivate employees, you must address a series of basis needs. As you might have guessed, they aren’t all about salary. Here are the five key satisfiers:

  1. Recognition
  2. The nature of the job
  3. Achievement
  4. Responsibility
  5. Growth opportunities

Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation plays an important part in modern human resource development theories — consider using it to motivate the members of your small team. 

Apply this tactic by meeting the five satisfiers, and you’ll motivate your team all the way from employee training to project completion.

3. Recognize Your Team’s Desire to Be Heard

Everybody has a natural desire to be heard. We’re all human beings with unique perspectives and experiences — it can be terribly demotivating when a senior team member overlooks that fact and sees you just as a lower-level employee.

A recent mini case study on motivation outlines a scenario in which a manager needs to confront an employee about an infraction on important guidelines. The manager approaches the conversation with an open and candid approach and gives the offending employee the time to explain their perspective.

At the conclusion, both parties are satisfied and relieved as a result of the exchange. The two were able to understand one another, allowing the employee to carry on with their day confidently.

In your own small team, it’s important that you give all of your colleagues the opportunity and inspiration to make themselves heard. This practice will undoubtedly make your employees feel more respected and, in turn, more motivated to perform well

4. Celebrate Your Organization’s Purpose

KPMG is an expansive company that enjoys a high level of employee motivation. But how do they maintain such an impressive office environment?

In this case study, we’re told that the firm recently made the decision to dig deeper, dispel company culture myths, and uncover the driving forces behind their high level of motivation.

KPMG Employee Motivation 


The company conducted a number of employee interviews to uncover what team members enjoyed about their job. The exercise showed that purpose was at the heart of employee motivation. 

As a result of those interviews, KPMG decided to forge a new mission statement and asked its team members to share their own purpose. The initiative was a success and the new mission statement acted as a rallying cry for KPMG employees. 

When motivating your small team, you might decide to explore the concept of purpose and drive home exactly what you’re working to achieve as a team. Having the big picture in mind can help keep your team dedicated to success.

5. Avoid Micromanaging Your Team

Micromanagement is an unpleasant dynamic for employees — it can cause them to feel as though they’re under attack. The constant scrutiny can be exhausting, and the lack of autonomy detracts from any sense of satisfaction they might derive from their role.

This case study in destructive micromanagement underscores just how damaging micromanagement can be to employee motivation — it even tells us it’s the opposite of effective leadership. 

Micromanagement Case Study

While communicating with your team is important, when it turns into micromanagement, the motivation of smaller teams can greatly suffer. Persistent contact and proximity with a manager can cause fatigue, stress, and emotional strain

Keeping that in mind, one way you can motivate your team members is by giving them the appropriate space an autonomy they need to perform well.

6. Understand McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory

In a small team, it’s critical that you work to develop a good idea of what motivates your individual team members. This insight can help you engage with each team member and really understand what works for them.

According to McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory, employees are motivated by one of three key drivers:

  1. Achievement
  2. Power
  3. Affiliation

Each person will find themselves motivated by one driver according to their own preferences and experiences.

As the leader of a small team, you should try to understand what moves your employees. If you can get a clearer picture of what your employees are motivated by, you’ll be better able to address their individual needs and desires to keep them as motivated as possible.

7. Explore Popular Psychological Theories of Motivation on Your Own

Motivation is an imprecise and ever-evolving phenomenon. What might motivate your small team members one day might not the next day, so it’s important that you learn how to read the mood and desires within your team.

To do that effectively, you’ll need to dive deeper into the psychology of motivation and understand prevailing theories. This knowledge will give you the power to go with the flow and stay on top of your relationships with your small team members.

PositivePsychology has put together a great guide to the 20 most popular theories of motivation in psychology. This simple introduction might introduce you to new concepts and give you fresh ideas about how you can motivate your team members.

Use These Proven Tips to Ensure Your Team’s Motivation 

Hopefully, these tactics and strategies help you to motivate your small team and achieve success. With a highly motivated team around you, you’ll be able to secure better results and have more fun and rewarding experiences while doing so.


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