Career Masterclass: Push your team

Suffering from de-motivated staff? Here's how to push them.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Be explicit. Does every team member know the difference between competent and outstanding? Explain clearly what exceptional performance looks like and what the rewards are.

Spot what stops them. Help people identify what's holding them back. Whether it's crumbling self-belief (create achievable actions to boost their confidence) or just a chatty neighbour (change the seating plan), fix it together. And fix it fast.

Empower them. Don't confuse pushing with micro-managing; let those who can handle it reach peak performance in their own way. Use outcome-focused briefs, avoid rigid sets of instructions and encourage creativity, then watch them drive themselves harder than you ever could.

Inspire. Steve Jobs once said: 'If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.' Explain the dream behind your high standards and rave until they're also desperate to get there.

Keep talking. Specific, stretching goals will only work if you evaluate them. Meet individuals every fortnight to discuss progress against clear measures. Grafters will be encouraged to try new challenges; coasters will get a wake-up call.

Practise what you preach. Be their role model. Are you pushing yourself as hard as you're pushing them?

What's in it for them? People will always strive harder towards their own goals than someone else's. Help them define their future then show them how it fits into the overall vision.

Create competition. Publicly praise star performers. There's nothing like a little rivalry to keep the troops on their toes.

Say thank you. Take a moment to celebrate victories before you set your team their next challenge. Host a team lunch, give them an early finish, send a praising email. You can only push a team thanklessly for so long before they push off.

- The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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