How to Develop the Skill of
Authentic Encouragement

See also: Continuous Professional Development

Productivity in the workplace is tied to motivation. If employees are compelled to do their best every day, it’s good for the whole business.

As a manager, providing encouragement to team members is a core responsibility. And yet you won’t be able to increase motivation and morale if the tactics you use don’t feel authentic.

This is a skill you have to work on, and it’s made up of a number of other skills and techniques that come together to make every employee feel valued. Let’s go over what areas you should focus on as you hone your authentic encouragement abilities.

Group of people giving a high-five.

Celebrate successes

Employee recognition is one of the best ways to show that you appreciate the efforts of team members, in turn giving them the motivation to tackle the next challenge with gusto.

There are lots of ways to celebrate success, from informal face-to-face or virtual chats, to codified solutions that ensure rewards are offered consistently and regularly across the whole organization.

It’s also useful to be flexible in terms of the way you show recognition and give encouragement; adopt a number of thoughtful employee recognition ideas so you can tailor your approach to the individual, adding a touch of personalization.

Most importantly, make sure that when you’re recognizing an achievement, you go into detail about why it’s meaningful and what benefits it will bring. A pat on the back and a muttered ‘well done’ simply isn’t encouraging enough.

Set suitable goals

You can apply the principles of setting personal goals to the process of managing a team. This is sensible because without a target to strive towards, it’s hard to feel motivated.

Clarity and achievability are the cornerstones of good goals, meaning that you need to know what the endpoint looks like, and be confident that it’s realistically attainable. There’s no point being too ambitious when setting goals for others, because if an employee is consistently unable to cross the finish line, they’ll be demoralized.

Focus on team collaboration

Managers should foster positive relationships with the employees they oversee, and offer encouragement consistently. However, it’s even more vital that there are strong, supportive bonds between colleagues themselves.

A lynchpin of collaboration is ensuring that team members work well together, and furthermore have the tools and the framework within which they can do this seamlessly.

When people who are peers are there for one another, and have a shared target to hit, they’ll perpetuate a culture of positive encouragement naturally. You just need to set the examples and give them the means to tap into this potential.

Steer clear of negativity

It might feel like being strict is a good way to get employees to focus on their responsibilities, but the reality is that you’ll get better results if you sidestep negative attitudes and instead exude positivity wherever possible.

Happy, content and composed employees will work harder and perform better than those who are always on edge for fear of being called out, or because of the generally intense atmosphere in the organization.

Take breaks

Even if employees are motivated and encouraged in the right way, they can still suffer from burnout. This usually comes about from over-working, so in a sense too much encouragement can be a bad thing.

The solution is to not only ensure that breaks are built into the working day, but that they are actively recommended to all team members.

Breaks are also the perfect time for employees to take on the fuel they need to return to the coalface with renewed vigor. That’s the reason most of the top businesses in the world have free drinks and snacks on tap; being fed and watered is conducive to increased productivity, so it’s a cost worth bearing as an employer.

Communicate the collective impact of employee contributions

We’ve already talked about how recognizing the achievements of individuals and teams is useful. But if these exist in isolation, it can be tricky for employees to find meaning in what they’re doing from day to day.

That’s why you also need to communicate what their efforts mean in a broader context. This could be in relation to the overall trajectory of the organization. It could be in relation to the customer experience, or the community impact that your company has through its work.

Whatever the case, sharing the big-picture results of the smaller scale achievements of your team will encourage them on a whole other level.

Be open and honest

Honesty is the best policy in many situations, and when managing teams it is definitely best to keep them in the loop and to answer their questions transparently. If they feel like they are having the truth concealed from them, it won’t be good for morale.

Once again this is a means of showing that you’re all in the same boat, and all sharing the same journey as a unit, rather than there being an us and them mentality that segregates and fragments the business.

Give employees more control

Lastly, when it comes to being motivated in the workplace, having freedom and feeling that you’re able to act autonomously rather than always being beholden to a higher power is impactful.

This can be done in a number of ways, such as by setting goals but not always indicating how you want teams to reach them, or by embracing flexible working rather than sticking to standard office hours.

Letting employees find their own way forward, as opposed to micromanaging all aspects of your operations, is among the strongest forms of authentic encouragement.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

Wrapping up

Being able to motivate a team is definitely a skill that comes naturally to some, and which others will have to work to develop in themselves.

Wherever you sit on this spectrum, the time invested in nurturing it will be repaid with a more productive and satisfied workforce. This in turn has other benefits, keeping employees loyal, reducing costs and boosting sales as a positive culture grows.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.