Motivating your team – 10 top tips, and 5 things not to do

Over the last 15 years, our in-house tool, the Good Boss Questionnaire (GBQ), has been providing insights into how certain aspects of managerial behaviour affect employees. The extensive research carried out during its development discovered that certain behaviour traits have a real impact on people –both negatively and positively. By being aware of these behaviours and making changes, you can improve staff morale, productivity and turnover.

Recently, we undertook some analysis of the Good Boss database to look specifically at motivation. Our findings have shown which particular actions have the most positive impact on the motivation level of employees – and which have the biggest demotivational impact.

Ten top tips for motivating your team

  1. Provide clear direction. Be specific; avoid ambiguous statements and sweeping suggestions.
  2. Reward good work. Recognising people for the behaviour and actions that lead to good results helps reinforce what good looks like and encourages employees to repeat the behaviour and actions you value.
  3. Help others to succeed. Employees need to know that they are a priority.
  4. Plan ahead. This helps your people to ensure that their own time is used efficiently.
  5. Put the team first. People need to know you have their back; nobody wants to work purely to make their boss look good!
  6. Be honest. Keep your word, follow through on promises and deliver on time. Be willing to listen and discuss issues, even when decisions are not yet final.
  7. Be true to your values. Have the courage to speak up when your point of view is at odds with a commonly held belief about how things should be done.
  8. Get to the heart of the problem. Even if an employee’s issue may seem small and insignificant, some small problems cause regular frustration. Not taking these seriously can cause people to think you don’t care.
  9. Be optimistic. Optimism opens us up to new ideas, new experiences and new possibilities. It helps us look to the future and create expansive, evolving realities.
  10. Implement solutions. Monitor the effectiveness and take corrective actions as needed.

The top 5 demotivators – traits and behaviours to avoid!

  1. Lack of organisational skills. People are negatively impacted by disorganised bosses because they can find that their time is often wasted or used inefficiently. Any efforts they put in to plan ahead and keep on top of their workload may well be undermined by a sudden change in priorities brought on by their boss’s initial failure to appreciate key timescales and dependencies. People are more likely to seek alternative employment.
  2. Unreasonable demands. Bosses are likely to experience difficulties if they make unreasonable demands on their people, imposing upon their personal time. Even if you don’t ask people to work long hours, they may feel obliged to do so if this is how you are behaving, as you are the one who is managing them. This will undoubtedly cause unnecessary pressure for those around you. People are more likely to take “fake” sick days, experience stress and resign.
  3. Delaying decisions until the last moment. Often managers feel they have a good “excuse” for delaying decisions (eg feeling they need more data or need to solicit more opinions), but the real issue is a fear of making a mistake. However, the consequence of this behaviour is that it teaches people that they should avoid mistakes at all costs and that looking right is more important than doing right. As a manager, you should model taking calculated risks and learning from mistakes.
  4. Causing chaos and confusion. When a boss is disorganised, it can lead to partial requests, misinformation, missed or wrong deadlines and general messiness. All these can cause balls to be dropped, and the ensuing stress and rush to pick them up again.
  5. Failing to keep people informed. You may not appreciate the importance of sharing information with others or the reasons why you should keep people appraised of what is expected of them. But weak communication skills have a really negative impact on employees – they are more likely to experience stress, work less hard and seek alternative employment.

If you’d like to find out more about how the Good Boss Questionnaire and our other products and services can help deliver improved organisational performance in your company, contact us on 01932 874944 or email us at