How To Prepare For a Team Building Session

How To Prepare For a Team Building Session

In order to be ready to welcome participants to your team building session, you must be prepared. Try to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, and leave yourself plenty of time so that you arrive at the team building venue early.

If your team building session is technology heavy, arrive 45-60 minutes before your session starts in order to set up, test, and work out any problems before your participants arrive. If you are walking into a session where the technology is already set up, or you are not using a laptop/presentation style approach, arrive 30 minutes early.

Other things you will want to do:

  • Set up your materials
  • Make sure the team building area is prepared properly
  • Locate the washrooms
  • Locate emergency exits

If your team building session runs for more than one day and everything is in working order, you can arrive 15 minutes early for day two onward, but be sure to calculate traffic and other factors (such as weather) properly. It is important that you arrive before your participants do, and that you are ready and able to welcome them.

Your welcome should include the following:

  • Make sure that the team building area is welcoming and ready before participants arrive
  • Greet participants individually as they arrive and invite them into the team building area
  • Ask them to sign in and make themselves a name tag or tent card if you are using them
  • Invite them to help themselves to a refreshment if they are available
  • As you get things underway, introduce yourself (or have another facilitator/host introduce you) to break the ice and establish your credibility
  • Have the participants introduce themselves
  • Review the agenda for the day so that people know what to expect
  • Asked participants about their expectations and personal learning objectives

When you ask participants about their expectations, be prepared for them to have thought of things that you may not have, but don’t worry. If there are things that people were looking for that you can incorporate in some way, then it is recommended that you do so. If you are not able to incorporate them, assure the participants that you can provide them with information that they need, and be sure to follow up.

What to Do When Team Building Activities Go Wrong

Even if we create excellent team building programs and training plans, as facilitators we also recognize that a game or activity that worked with one team may not work with another. In order to be comfortable that you have selected the best activities, consider the following:

  • Avoid activities that would annoy you if you were a participant.
  • Adjust the length and type of activity to suit the length of the team building session. A one-day workshop may or may not benefit from a 45 minute icebreaker at the beginning; a five or ten minute icebreaker is probably just fine. However, if your team is taking part in a three to five day workshop and the outcomes improve when participants get to know one another really well, then an extensive game of up to an hour is appropriate.
  • Know your audience. Senior staff does not usually want to look silly or foolish in front of their subordinates. Junior staff may not be comfortable looking silly in front of their boss.
  • If participants arrive in business clothes, they may not be comfortable with really active games. If your session will be highly active or calls for casual clothes, make sure that participants know that ahead of time.
  • Participants who work together may know each other very well will find some exercises redundant. Be selective about the team building activities that you choose.
  • Learning dealing with personal development subjects such as communication or team building will benefit from games more so than training that relates to computer software, for example. The software group, however, might really need one or even several short energizers throughout the day to maintain motivation levels as well as retention.

If an activity flops: If a team building activity does not go over well with your team, don’t push it through to the end just because it’s a part of your lesson plan. Sometimes the dynamics of a group do not support an activity.

Here are some things that you can do if an activity flops.

  • Stop the activity and refocus the team. You can let them know that something went wrong, and that you are going to try again or you can abandon it altogether and move on.
  • Watch the energy levels. It is not unusual to expect that if an activity fizzles, the energy in the team will decrease sharply. People may feel that they have done something wrong. An energizer will get everyone reinvested in what is going on and restore those energy levels.
  • Organize an on-the-spot debriefing session and have the team identify what went wrong, and how to remedy the problem or move beyond it. Do not focus on why things went wrong, since that can lead to blaming or negativity that shouldn’t be introduced to the team building session. Focus the conversation on what and how.
  • If the team  building activity was applicable to the learning objectives and would work with some modifications, then make some changes and use it again. If it really isn’t applicable, then let it go and develop something that will enhance the training session the next time that it is offered.


Costs and Benefits of Team Building Events

Costs and Benefits of Team Building Events

Companies often spend a lot of money on training and team building events, so it only makes sense that they will want to see what they got back from the training. In some cases, this may be easy – you may be able to see a drop in hard numbers (like product defects, customer complaints, or days absent) as a result of your training. In other cases, the benefit might involve something much harder to calculate, like reduced stress, improved teamwork, or better communication.

Identifying and Measuring Tangible Benefits

Tangible benefits are those with a number attached to them. Some examples include:

  • Rate of absenteeism or turnover
  • Sales
  • Profits
  • Number or rand value of returns
  • Number or percentage of customer complaints
  • Length of downtime (due to accidents, machine failure, etc.)
  • Production volume
  • Error or defect rate
  • Customer and/or employee satisfaction
  • Response time

When gathering these metrics, make sure to gather information for a few months before and a few months after the time period that you are measuring, as well as data for the same time period in years previous. You will also want to be aware of external factors that could affect your data, such as weather, economic conditions, and changes in the company.

Identifying and Measuring Intangible Benefits

Training  and team building activities often provide more intangible benefits, such as better communication, improved anger and stress management, clearer writing skills, or more effective time management. It can be hard to put dollars and cents value on these skills; however, we are often asked to do so to prove that the training has been worthwhile.

  • Here are some ways to convert intangible benefits to hard numbers:
  • Calculate the time saved in hours and multiply by the person’s hourly wage
  • Tie the intangible benefit to a tangible benefit

Calculating Total Costs

Our next step is identifying the cost of the team building program. This should include:

  • Employee salaries paid while they were attending the program
  • Trainee expenses such as food, hotel, and transportation
  • Cost of materials and facility for the program
  • Facilitator cost before, during, and after the program
  • Development and licensing costs
  • Administrative costs

Making a Business Case

All of the evaluations and measurements that you perform before, during, and after a training or team building session should give you quantifiable, consistent information about the training that you performed. This information will help you:

  • Improve your training programs
  • Have confidence in yourself as a trainer
  • Gain support for your programs
  • You can also use this information when building a business case or proposal for your next team building program. A business case usually has the following items:
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information (to provide context)
  • Needs Analysis
  • Recommendations
  • Anticipated Benefits
  • Estimated Cost
  • Next Steps
  • References and Supporting Materials

Assessing Learning during Team Building Sessions

Assessing Learning during Team Building Sessions

Often, team leaders may assess learning before and after a team building session, but they may neglect to check in with the team while they are the team building session. It’s very important to include this in your training plan, particularly since most training programs start with foundation concepts and build towards advanced concepts. If your team gets lost at the beginning, your entire team building program could be in jeopardy.

Related: Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Reviewing Learning Objectives

At the beginning of the program, make sure you review the learning objectives of the course with the team. Give them the opportunity to give you feedback about the objectives:

Are all the objectives clear?

Is there anything that is missing?

Do the objectives seem reasonable?

Do participants understand how these learning points can translate back to the workplace?

During the team building program, check in with participants to make sure you’re still on track with the learning objectives. When participants are asked to perform evaluations, point out the ties back to the learning objectives.

Performing Hip-Pocket Assessments

During the team building session, check in with participants and evaluate them on reactionary and learning levels. Questions that you will want to ask include:

How does the team feel about the team building activities?

What has been the best thing about the team building so far? The worst thing?

What has the team learned?

What would the team still like to learn?

You may also want to ask specific questions about key content points.

Quizzes and Tests

Quizzes and tests are a good way to measure how much the team are learning during the team building session. Midpoint tests are good in many situations, including:

Workshops that have a lot of content

Workshops with difficult content

Long workshops

Topics that depend on each other

Don’t forget that a test doesn’t have to mean an hour-long exam. Try some of these fun ideas instead:

Divide participants into pairs or teams. Have them write quiz questions for each other. If the group is competitive, make it a tournament.

Place sheets of flip chart on the walls with key topic words. Assign a group to each sheet and have them review that topic. Or, have participants walk around and jot their own notes on the sheet, and review as a group.

Do you remember the picnic game from your childhood? Each person in the group would bring something to the picnic that started with a particular letter. The group would start with A and move through the alphabet. Play this game with your group, but choose a topic related to the workshop.

Play a game show like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, with topics tied to your content.

Have participants sit in a circle. Toss a soft ball to a person and have them name one thing that they have learned so far. Have participants toss the ball around until everyone has spoken. Make sure to include yourself in the game!

Skill Assessments

Quizzes, questionnaires, and tests are great for evaluating many types of knowledge. However, you may need additional tools to evaluate changes in behavior, abilities, and attitude. Below is an introduction to some of the tools that can help you evaluate these types of learning.

Demonstrations: Demonstrations can be a very powerful teaching tool, particularly for complex tasks. One method is to demonstrate the desired task, and then have participants demonstrate it back to you. Or, place participants in groups or pairs and have them demonstrate the task to each other. Just monitor the activity to make sure that the information is correct.

Role Play: Role plays are often listed as participants’ least favorite part of a workshop, but they are very helpful when learning new behaviors. Conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, communication, and training are just a few of the topics where role plays can be helpful.

To make the most of role plays, try these tips:

Give participants the option to take an active or inactive role.

Have clear instructions and roles.

Provide constructive feedback.

Provide tip sheets on the behavior to be role played.

Games: Games can provide a fun yet educational learning experience for participants. Make sure to practice the game ahead of time and make sure that it truly helps participants practice the skill that they are learning. And don’t forget – always have a backup plan.

Simulations: When they are well designed, simulations are excellent ways to assess how well a participant has learned a skill. They are particularly useful in situations where it is imperative that participants have excellent knowledge before going ahead with the real task, such as medical procedures or machine operation.

You can enhance the usefulness of these tools by adding a subjective rating system to them. For example, you could have a scorecard for demonstrations and role plays, or perhaps the simulator can provide a report on the user’s success and failure rates.

Making an Impact as Team Leader

Making an Impact as Team Leader

Some people stand out, while others fade into the background. But if you want to make the most of interpersonal relationships, you have to be able to leave a lingering positive impression on your team.

Creating a Powerful First Impression

You’ve probably heard this saying before: you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

In today’s fast-paced world, you have to maximize the time and opportunities you get with the people that you meet. The following are some tips in creating a powerful first impression:

Dress to impress. Beauty is within, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t make conclusions about you based on your appearance. If you want to create a great first impression make sure that you look your best. Whenever you’re presenting yourself to other people, be clean, well-groomed and dressed in clothes that fit and within the prescribed dress code

Be positive. Nobody likes to talk to cranky, irritable, and pessimistic people! Instead, people are drawn to those who smile a lot and radiate a pleasant disposition. If you want to be remembered, make them feel welcomed and appreciated. A positive experience is as easy to remember as a negative one!

Communicate your confidence. Powerful first impressions are those that show you are self-assured, competent, and purposive. Always establish eye contact with the people you are talking to. Shake hands firmly. Speak in a deliberate and purposive way.

Be yourself! Meeting people for the first time can be extremely anxiety-provoking, but do your best to act naturally. People are more responsive to those who don’t come across as if they’re putting on a front or are very controlled. Let your personality engage the other person.

Go for the extra mile. Do more than the usual that can make you stand out from the rest.

Assessing a Situation

All interpersonal skills involve sensitivity to what is going on around, especially what is happening with the people you are interacting with. After all, context variables, such as timing and location, can change the meaning of a communication. You want to make sure that you are not just saying the right thing, but you are saying the right thing at the right moment.

If you want to make an impact, you have to factor in the situation.

The following are some tips in assessing the situation:

Listen, not just to what is being said, but also to what is NOT being said.  An excellent interpersonal skill to master is a keen observing eye. You have to be able to note the body language of the people around you in order for you to be able to respond appropriately. For example, there is body language that says “go on, we like what you’re saying.” There is also body language that says “I don’t want to hear that right now.”

Identify needs. A second way to assess the situation is to ask yourself: what does this social occasion need right now? A newly formed team, for example, likely has members who still don’t know one another. The need then is for someone to help break the ice. A team that is tired from a long working day probably needs an opportunity to relax and unwind. Knowing these needs can help you respond to them more appropriately.

Practice etiquette. Etiquette may seem like a useless bunch of rules to some people but they serve a purpose: they tell you what are generally considered as acceptable and unacceptable for certain situations. It helps then that you know basic etiquette rules so that you don’t make a faux pas that can ruin the great first impression that you made.

Being Zealous without Being Offensive

Enthusiasm, diligence, and persistence are all great virtues to have, especially if you’re in the business of creating social networks. However, you have to be careful that your persevering doesn’t cross the line to pestering — or worse harassing the person.

The following are some tips in being zealous without being offensive:

Focus on what is important to the other person. Being “other-centered” is the best way to monitor your own eagerness to make contact with other people. Before you do something, make that habit of asking yourself: does this action address the need of the other person, or is it merely addressing my need?

Respect boundaries. Everyone has personal boundaries, and it would do us well to respect them. Not seeing clients without an appointment is an example of a boundary. The same goes for not accepting calls during the weekend or past regular office hours. Work within these boundaries, and you’ll be able to communicate your courtesy. And if you don’t know what a person’s boundaries are, you have nothing to lose in asking!

Make requests, not demands. As mentioned previously, we can always do our best to persuade and influence other people, but we can’t force them to do what they don’t want to do. So always courteously ask for permission, and verify agreement. And if they say no —- then accept the no as an answer, unless you have something new to offer.

Note non-verbal behavior. Similar to the tip in the previous section, always be guided by the other person’s non-verbal response to you. If you find that they are already showing irritation — example they speak in a gruff, annoyed tone when talking to you —- then perhaps it’s time to back off. But if they appear open to you — they look at you with interest while you speak — then it’s advisable to go on.


Sharing Your Opinion in a Team

Sharing Your Opinion in a Team

Sharing your opinion is an invitation for the rest of the team to share their opinion, setting the stage for an engaging discussion or debate. In this blog, we will discuss the skills you can use in sharing your opinion. Particularly, we will discuss how to use I-messages, disagree constructively, and build consensus.

Using I-Messages

An I-message is a message that is focused on the speaker. When you use I-messages, you take responsibility for your own feelings instead of accusing the other person of making you feel a certain way.  The opposite of an I-message is a You-message.

An I-message is composed of the following:

A description of the problem or issue

Describe the person’s behavior you are reacting to in an objective, non-blameful, and non-judgmental manner.  

“When … “

Describe the concrete or tangible effects of that behavior.

“The effects are … “

A suggestion for alternative behavior

“I’d prefer … “

Here is an example of an I-message:

“When I have to wait outside the office an extra hour because you didn’t inform me that you’d be late (problem/issue), I become agitated (effect). I prefer for you to send me a message if you will not be able to make it (alternative behavior).”

The most important feature of I-messages is that they are neutral. There is no effort to threaten, argue, or blame in these statements. You avoid making the other person defensive, as the essence of an I-message is “I have a problem” instead of “You have a problem”. The speaker simply makes statements and takes full responsibility for his/her feelings.

Disagreeing Constructively

There is nothing wrong with disagreement in a team. No two people are completely similar therefore it’s inevitable that they would disagree on at least one issue. There’s also nothing wrong in having a position and defending it.

To make the most of a disagreement, you have to keep it constructive. The following are some of the elements of a constructive disagreement:

Solution-focus. The disagreement aims to find a workable compromise at the end of the discussion.

Mutual Respect. Even if the two parties do not agree with one another, courtesy is always a priority.

Win-Win Solution.  Constructive disagreement is not geared towards getting the “one-up” on the other person.  The premium is always on finding a solution that has benefits for both parties.          

Reasonable Concessions.  More often than not, a win-win solution means you won’t get your way completely. Some degree of sacrifice is necessary to meet the other person halfway. In constructive disagreement, parties are open to making reasonable concessions for the negotiation to move forward.

Learning-Focused. Parties in constructive disagreement see conflicts as opportunities to get feedback on how well a system works, so that necessary changes can be made. They also see it as a challenge to be flexible and creative in coming up with solutions for everyone’s gain.

Building Consensus

Consensus means unanimous agreement on an area of contention. Arriving at a consensus is the ideal resolution of bargaining. If both parties can find a solution that is agreeable to both of them, then anger can be prevented or reduced.

The following are some tips on how to arrive at a consensus:

Focus on interests rather than positions. Surface the underlying value that makes people take the position they do. For example, the interest behind a request for a salary increase may be financial security. If you can communicate to the other party that you acknowledge this need, and will only offer a position that takes financial security into consideration, then a consensus is more likely to happen.

Explore options together. Consensus is more likely if both parties are actively involved in the solution-making process. This ensures that there is increased communication about each party’s position. It also ensures that resistances are addressed.

Increase sameness and reduce differentiation. A consensus is more likely if you can emphasize all the things that you and the other party have in common, and minimize all the things that make you different. An increased empathy can make finding common interests easier. It may also reduce psychological barriers to compromising. An example of increasing sameness and reducing differences is an employer and employee temporarily setting aside their position disparity and looking at the problem as two stakeholders in the same organization.


How to Begin the Coaching Journey with Your Team

How to Begin the Coaching Journey with Your Team

In this blog, you will learn how to place that stake in the ground, marking the beginning of the coaching journey with your team.

Getting a Picture of Where You Are

Framing the reality of the situation for your team is an important step to accepting the coaching process. It is easier for you to outline your team’s performance problem, but this does not create the most receptive environment. In order to gain acceptance of the problem, it is best to let the team come to the realization themselves. Neglecting to do this could result in a non-responsive team. They may feel apprehensive or defensive and shut down. They may go along with your coaching, but their attitude is that of just getting the coaching session over with in the least amount of time. Involving your team is easy if you are willing to ask questions, listen, and guide your them to where they are in their performance. Here are four simple questions you can ask:

  • What is happening now?
  • How often is this happening?
  • When does it happen?
  • What is the effect?

These questions help you to guide your team to a place where they can see their performance affect the organization. When they realize the impact on their own more buy-in is created. In addition, more information may be obtained on why your team is not performing at the level they should be achieving.

The realization of the problem marks the starting point. It also serves as a marker on performance. For instance, a team member may discover that they are not reaching production goals because they are taking extra time doing something incorrectly. Knowing this, you are able to refer to this issue when improvements occur.

Identifying Obstacles

When coaching, obstacles will arise and you need to be prepared to handle them with efficiency. The last thing you want to happen is your team handing you an obstacle you cannot address because you are not prepared to handle the problem with a consistent response.

Using the IRA steps to obstacle identification and removal is vital to the coaching process. Here is the breakdown of the process.

  • Identify the obstacle: Have a frank discussion with your team and determine what is blocking their performance. Waiting for them to give you the information voluntarily will probably not happen.
  • Root out the cause: Many times underlying emotions or problems may be the cause of the obstacles. Ask probing questions and jot down the answers. You might realize they have a fear that must be addressed.
  • Antidote given: A remedy to the situation is needed in order to get past this obstacle. Brainstorm with your team on ways to remove the obstacles. In some cases, you may have to try several different antidotes. Be patient if the cause is genuine.

No matter what the perceived obstacles are, do not let it stifle you coaching objective. Rarely, you may encounter a team member that throws obstacles constantly your way in an effort to derail you. Identify this and address it with that team member, documenting every conversation.

Exploring the Past

Exploring your team’s past performance and development is a great way to develop the reality of today’s performance. Of course, you want to avoid belaboring a past mistake to the point where it makes the session ineffective. On the other hand, focusing on previous achievements helps to encourage your team.

Here are some things to focus from the past:

  • Goals that were met
  • Great behaviors
  • Great attitudes
  • Problems solved

Using the past helps to recap where your team is at today. It is like telling a story, but the end has not yet been determined. Use this time to speak positively to your team. Avoid being negative or emphasizing the consequences of failure. This will leave an impression on your team that could hinder their success.

Keeping Yourself Motivated As a Team Leader

Keeping Yourself Motivated As a Team Leader

Maintaining personal motivation is something essential as an important member of a team, particularly in the case where you are responsible for the motivation of others. As a team leader or manager you will be looked to for reassurance and guidance in a job, and if you give the impression that you are merely going through the motions, your lack of motivation can become contagious. Even if you are responsible solely for yourself, personal motivation remains vitally important. Motivation is what keeps us from giving up and refusing to get out of bed in the morning. Any way we can improve on our level of personal motivation is valuable.

Identifying Personal Motivators

What constitutes a motivation for one person may not be the same for others. Personal motivators are different between people, because the very definition of personal requires that you see things differently from the next person. The importance of identifying your own personal motivators is clear. Without a clear, identifiable set of personal motivating factors, it can be easy to fall into either an unmotivated condition or to rely on other people’s motivations to keep you going forward. There are times when we cannot rely on other people to give us the motivation we feel we need, and when you are on your own you need to motivate yourself.

Identifying your own personal motivators is something that takes some self-knowledge and some thinking time. What is it that you want to take from your job? Are you happy to keep cashing the paychecks, or do you wish to advance further in the company? Why did you apply for the job in the first place – and are you close to satisfying that goal? Ask as many questions as you can ask yourself, and as many answers as you can give to those questions, the better your own personal motivation.

One motivation that works well for a number of people is surpassing themselves. Keeping a record of personal achievements attained while in your current job and attempting to do better every month is a challenge that is never completed. If this fails to motivate you, then look at other things which reward performance. Often, people are most motivated by the recognition of their achievements by others, and by setting an example to other members of staff. Whatever works for you is a valid means of self-motivation. Make sure that you have as many motivating factors as you can think of, because the more things you want to achieve, the more you will achieve.

Maximizing Your Motivators

As far as motivation in a job is concerned, it is a matter which requires regular evaluation and frequent updating. There are countless potential motivators for individuals, and as long as they work for you they are valid. What some people struggle with is ensuring that they continue to work. Particularly if you have been in the same job for a long time, it can be easy to lose the urgency and motivation that drove you to your best results when you started. Think of yourself ten years ago and the principles you held which you believed to be as solid as a rock. Do you still feel the same way now, or has life given you a different outlook?

Constantly giving some thought to what motivates you and why will enable you to get the best out of your motivators. When you started in the job, it may have been about the money, but maybe you have enough money now. In this case, it can help to think of something that you want to do which will require more money – taking a break to travel for a while, building a new house, or whatever suits your means. This is a way of maximizing an old motivator which may have ceased to be that effective. Maybe one of your motivations has been recognition. In this case, seeking to mentor a newer member of staff can be beneficial. While you may have achieved almost all there is to achieve in this job, someone else could maybe do with the benefit of your experience.

Taking the factors which have motivated you in the past and updating them for the future is one way to maximize your motivational factors. In addition, it helps to look at your home life as it relates to your work life. If there is something you really need or really want in your home life, and your job can help you achieve it, then this may be all the motivation you need. Pushing yourself to achieve as much as possible will eventually pay off, especially when other people have ceased to push you because they know how good you are.

Evaluating and Adapting

We all have things which motivate us – when we are kids, when we are young adults and when we are mature adults – and all that changes is the nature of our motivations. Even once we have retired, we will often find that there are things that we need to do and need to achieve before we can truly rest. In fact, one thing that motivates a lot of people is the need to keep their minds active. Research has proven that people who remain active through their middle and early old age keep syndromes such as dementia at bay for longer than those who do not. This makes it all the more important to remain motivated.

It is sometimes too easy to just let things pass you by through complacency, especially when you have already achieved enough to make you more or less immune from being fired. While it may be nice to remain in a job even when on auto-pilot, there is no denying that it is disadvantageous for keeping the challenge in a job and for motivation. Should you want to make a move into another part of the company or another job, it is always useful to have a results sheet which shows continuing improvement and achievement. To this end it always helps to have a record of achievement and keep testing yourself against it

In the end, the person who can best judge how well you are doing is you. Any manager to whom you answer will probably have other people to manage as well, who may require more careful handling than you. The only way you can ensure you remain motivated is to motivate yourself – so if you find that your motivation is beginning to wane, look at other reasons to stay in the job and work harder. There are always reasons to push yourself, and it is a matter of finding the one which does it for you, no matter how often that changes.

Motivating Your Team on the Job

Motivating Your Team on the Job

The importance of motivation in any workplace is clear to see. Without motivated employees, any manager or team leader will find it a lot harder to get results out of their team. One can produce a fairly reasonable standard of work without having great motivation, but to exceed expectations and achieve great results it is essential to have superb motivation. Without something to concentrate on as the reward, the reason you do the job and the reason you want to do the job, it is difficult to produce quality results, because an absence of enthusiasm will always result in flaws.

The Key Factors

There are various factors in motivation, and philosophies of motivation as put forward by great minds of the business world. The key factors of motivation are diverse, and can come from anywhere. Your team  may feel more motivated by the prospect of the punishment of failure than they do with the rewards of success. Even if they are motivated by the trappings of success, there are several different elements that can be covered by this – a higher salary, a promotion, the recognition of co-workers. Human motivation is something personal and cannot be second-guessed.

The inherent factors in motivational tools are that they fulfill a priority for the person concerned and that they can be relied on. If you want to provide motivation to a team, it is essential that you allow for the fact that different team members will be motivated by different things. A company can spend as much money as it likes on tools for the job and on office facilities, but if the employees are not motivated on a personal level there is simply no point. Giving the team members reason to come in in the morning and do their job to the best of their ability is the only way you can guarantee the optimum level of performance.

There are many of the factors that need to be considered with a view to motivating your team. The team members need to feel secure first and foremost. They wish to feel secure in their job, and also in their personal life. If they are well enough remunerated they will be able to meet their rent or their mortgage payments. Team members also need to feel that they are valued and respected. But as well as how an employee feels, it is also important to consider what they covet. As often as not this will be a higher salary, better benefits, and the chance to take part in occasions which recognize brilliance.

Creating a Motivational Organization

An organization is only ever as strong as its employees, and a team will only be as strong as its weakest members. In order to produce the best results over and over again, there is nothing more important than ensuring that motivation is high throughout the organization. This means that a company needs to have a policy for motivation if it wants to have the best results. Good motivation from top to bottom is not something that can be achieved simply by flipping a switch, nor by decree from one boss. Good motivation is achieved by team members knowing that their work is appreciated and will be rewarded, and that they are valued within their organization.

Ensuring that this is the case entails a process of selecting the right people for the right jobs. Someone can be an excellent worker in terms of their knowledge of the procedures and tools required to perform operations, but if they are liable to have a corrosive effect on team morale then their position has to be considered. It is all well and good to be able to carry out your duties, but if when you are not carrying them out you insult team mates and create a hostile atmosphere then the overall effect will be negative for the company. To ensure a motivational organization it is essential to prioritize the appointment of staff that can work with others, provide encouragement or advice, and contribute to a positive working environment.

This is a question which comes down to balance. If you have an organization which has its fair share of problem solvers, consensus builders, nurtures, and humorists among others, then you will have a far greater chance of creating the motivational environment that you are looking for. This is something that should be checked for at the recruitment stage. It is important to get people who can do the job, and it is also hugely important to get people with whom you and other people can work. A motivational organization is one in which the employees naturally complement one another as personalities and as workers.

Creating a Motivational Job

Ideally, any employee in a company will be able to reply to the question “Do you like your job?” with a “yes”, a smile, and a list of reasons why. We have all heard, or read, or have been that person who is never done complaining about their job when not in the office, so it would appear that there is still some work to be done before we are all doing our perfect job. If perfect is not possible, then, we are looking for jobs which make us feel motivated, and as though we feel it is worth going to work tomorrow. Jobs like that do not grow on trees, but when you are a team leader and it is up to you to put the right job description together in order that potential employees feel that they want to do the job.

Everyone has their own perfect job. The idea of a perfect job is that it will be one that the employee will be happy to show up for, and which they would consider doing even if they weren’t being paid. Although the simple truth is that most of us only countenance doing our job because we know that there is a pay check waiting at the end of it, it should be a target for everyone to have a job where they require little extra motivation beyond that which already exists – a target for employers and employees. If you have a happy team you are much more likely to have good work done.

So while people will generally find it very hard to ever get hold of their perfect job, having a good motivational job is something worth aiming for. The perfect motivational job is one which combines as many of the business philosophers’ essential factors as possible. It will present challenges for the employee, but ones which are achievable for a diligent worker. Achieving these challenges will be met with financial and social reward and the confidence of maintaining a place in the business while also being recognized as a strong worker. In the best motivational jobs, an understanding will exist between the employer and the employee that each knows what the other is looking for, and can provide it.


Using Expectancy Theory to Motivate Your Team

Using Expectancy Theory to Motivate Your Team

While there are a number of theories which focus on needs as a driver of motivation, Victor Vroom’s Theory of Expectancy rather thrives on the outcomes. To clarify, while Herzberg and Maslow make the case for motivation being something that is dependent on need, Vroom suggests that the best motivation is to concentrate on the result of work as being the ultimate goal. He splits the process down into three sections – effort (for which motivation is essential), performance, and outcome. The theory is that if the employee is sufficiently motivated to achieve the results, their performance will be better as a result, and the outcome will to some extent take care of itself as a result of improved performance – which will itself be a result of greater effort.

A History of Expectancy Theory

Victor Vroom is a much-respected professor and researcher in the business world, and works at the Yale Business School as well as serving as a consultant for some of the world’s most successful companies. This elevated status is due in no small part to his expectancy theory of motivation, which addresses the reasons why people follow the path that they do within corporations. His proposition was that behavior results from choices made by the individual where the choice exists to do something else. The underlying truth in this theory is that people will do what works out best for them. The important element is the outcome.

Related: Reward your team with fun team building activities

Vroom worked on this theory with fellow business scientists Edward Lawler and Lyman Porter. The theory dates back to 1964 and is still widely used by professors. While the process is characterized as Effort, Performance, Outcome, and more specifically as E>P (increased effort leads to a greater performance) and P>O (increased performance brings a better outcome), he takes notice of the fact that greater effort will not happen all by itself. What makes a satisfactory outcome for one individual may not necessarily work for another.

Clearly the theory has convinced many, as Vroom has been much in demand since the theory was unveiled, and major companies such as American Express have taken great care to solicit his opinions. While the Expectancy Theory may seem simple and largely self-explanatory, Vroom does make specific reference to elements which can easily be ignored, and without which the theory would not work. It is therefore beneficial to take not only the three factors above, but Vroom’s three “Variables”.

Understanding the Three Factors

The core variables in the theory of expectancy are Valence, Expectancy, and Instrumentality. The meaning that these variables have is as follows:

Valence – the importance that is placed by the individual upon the expected outcome. If the outcome for a project’s successful completion is that the individual will be rewarded with more important projects when they would actually rather be rewarded with time off, they will place less value on the outcome, and their motivation to perform well will suffer, leading to reduced effort. Ensuring that the valence of a task is at a suitable level is a significant motivation

Expectancy – the belief that increased effort will lead to increased performance. Expressed in more simple terms, this means that if you put in more effort, the results will be better. This obviously depends to some extent on having the resources, the skills, and the support to get the job done. While effort is undoubtedly important it is not quite accurate to say that more effort will always mean better results. More effort on its own may well simply be wasted effort, if the person doing the work is using the wrong tools, is the wrong person or is working with people who have limited interest in reaching the same outcome.

Instrumentality – this is the belief that if an individual performs up to a certain level, they will be rewarded with an outcome that will be beneficial to them. It is one thing to tell an individual that, should they meet their performance targets, they will be rewarded with a beneficial outcome, and another to convince them of that. The important factors in Instrumentality are:

an understanding that performance equals outcome (so the reward depends upon the satisfactory performance)

a sense of trust that the people who promise the reward will deliver

trust in the capacity of the people judging the performance and the outcome

Therefore, the Theory will only work in practice if the individual recognizes that they need to perform, and trusts the people in control to judge their performance and deliver what is promised.

Using the Three Factors to Motivate in the Workplace

The three factors of the theory of expectation as set out above all have their part to play in the workplace. Along with what has been learned from Herzberg and Maslow’s theories, we can take their insistence on the needs of an employee and put them in a goal-oriented context by applying Vroom’s theories.

Firstly there is the issue of valence. Does the motivation exist to complete a task well if the outcome is uninspiring? Surely not, therefore to ensure the maximum motivation, it is ideal to offer something which will be coveted. This is perhaps the most important level of the E>P>O equation. The effort will rise to meet the outcome. How this is used in the workplace will depend on what the company can deliver.

Then there is the issue of expectancy. Effort will only lead to performance where the conditions exist to make it so. In the simplest terms, you might be able to deliver a fine reward to someone who can build a kennel for your dog. But if you only hand them two planks of wood and a broken screwdriver, you may as well offer them a trip around the world for all the good it will do. You cannot expect someone to meet their goals if you do not present conditions which make this possible. All the effort in the world will not make it happen.

Finally there is the issue of instrumentality. This is important in workplaces where big rewards have been offered before, and in those where it is done for the first time. There is little point in a small-income business to offer a sports car as an incentive for better performance, as there is little likelihood of them delivering it. Equally there is limited reason to offer a chocolate bar as the reward for a project which will make a company a million dollars, as it just seems like a slap in the face. Equally, if rewards have been offered before and the task completed only for the company to express their regrets and fail to pay out the reward, the chance that people will trust enough to put the effort in again is greatly reduced.