How to Motivate Your Team

By Jack J. Kelly 

On ESPN or any other sports channel, we have the opportunity to watch in real-time as a coach motivates his team to achieve greatness and victory. Sometimes the speeches and words of encouragement empower athletes to perform amazing feats (and you want to suit-up and get in the game yourself), other times it is cringe-worthy, and many times it’s meh.

Similarly, in movies, we watch the scene at the big game, the music swells up to a crescendo, the camera pans the faces of the young athletes – nervous, excited, uplifted, sweating – then the coach hits the raw emotional core of the players who jump in excitement, the audience leaps to their feet cheering, someone sheds a tear, and the team goes on to win the game and championship.

It’s kind of crazy that we do all this for a silly game. In the real world, at the office workplace, we don’t see or even expect the rousing motivational speeches to happen. Instead, we are conditioned to expect a diet of dreary corporate platitudes, jargon, buzzwords, and the crack of a whip.

I’m not going to pretend that I will offer you a rousing stirring speech to get you running out of your cubicle high-fiving your coworkers and spiking the football at the big meeting.

What I can do, for now, is offer some sound advice for managers to help motivate and inspire their team to help them reach peak performance, achieve their goals, have a little meaning in their job, and know that their work is appreciated.


  1. The first step is to actually get to know your employees as human beings and not as office furniture or computers.
  2. Once you recognize that they are individuals with feelings, specific strengths, weaknesses, interests, desires, fears, and ambitions, you could then help them achieve their goals.
  3. Also, a byproduct of this is that your team will start treating you nicely too and it becomes a more pleasant work environment for everyone.
  4. Set clear realistic goals and objectives to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  5. Make sure that you maintain open two-way communications with your staff.
  6. Lead by example.
  7. Offer opportunities for advancement within your division and companywide.
  8. Empower your group to take chances and risks.
  9. If they fail, don’t punish them for trying and not succeeding.
  10. Offer incentives and rewards for doing a good job.
  11. Earn your employees’ trust.
  12. Take time to celebrate the achievement of incremental goals.
  13. Praise people for their individual contributions.
  14. Offer opportunities to have people do meaningful work and to have a sense of purpose.
  15. Remain positive and upbeat, even when you feel miserable and at the end of your rope.
  16. Be transparent, so people don’t have to guess your intentions and game plan.
  17. Offer regular feedback and constructive criticisms when needed.
  18. Give your team a reasonable work/life balance.
  19. Have an open-door policy, so people can talk freely and also confide in you.
  20. Let people take the lead at times.
  21. Hold out a big picture, so employees understand what they are working towards.
  22. Hire good, quality, authentic, smart, honest, and motivated people.
  23. When you do this, other smart, quality, motivated people will also want to join the team.
  24. If someone is an ass, quickly remove them before they ruin it for everyone else.
  25. Cut down on the red tape and bureaucracy as much as possible.
  26. Encourage camaraderie.
  27. Avoid wasteful meetings that never end.
  28. Pay people well.
  29. Try to keep employees from becoming bored and distracted.
  30. Allow your team to engage in creativity.
  31. Welcome new ideas.

After writing this, I realize why movies don’t capture these moments. These management tips are basic concepts that need to be implemented and worked on daily. It’s hard work and doesn’t offer the big-screen glamour of a heart-pounding speech made in the last seconds of the Super Bowl.  But, ironically, it is more important because it is your life and livelihood. The ideas may not make you jump-up and cheer; however, they will make your employees’ lives better, more satisfying, offering growth potential, and a measure of happiness.





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