5 Important Motivational Skills to Develop
When You're Managing a Team

Take our: How Self-Motivated Are You? Quiz

Successful managers and employers should have a wide range of motivational skills to inspire their team and encourage their staff to reach new heights.

Whether you’re hiring for a leadership role or you’re looking to improve your own skills, focus on the following management skills.

Group of people working on laptops around a table.

1. Empathy

The words sympathy and empathy are often used interchangeably by managers, but they couldn’t be more different. Sympathy involves understanding a person’s emotions from your own perspective, whereas empathy is the ability to understand and share the feeling of another.

Empathy isn’t just about consoling the other party; it’s about understanding why a person has these feelings. When we become aware of the root cause of why a person feels the way they do, we can provide healthier options. It also helps people feel heard and validated.

You can show empathy to your staff members by:

  • Asking questions about a person’s hobbies or interests

  • Starting informal conversations that don’t involve work topics

  • Celebrating birthdays, engagements, and other special events

  • Creating wellness activities, like a fitness class

  • Making the office more comfortable to work in

Empathy can also help you personalize gifts, workplace strategies, and meetings.

As Successories explains in their guide, empathy is a core part of any employee service award program because it helps you understand what kind of gifts your staff prefers to receive.

2. Persistence

Employees and employers need persistence to work through obstacles and achieve long-term success. However, when a leader makes an effort to persist against all odds, it teaches them to work diligently and overcome difficulties. It also creates a growth-focused company culture.

You can show persistence to your staff members by:

  • Articulating your vision by identifying future employee need

  • Leading by example by working hard and investing time

  • Learning negotiation skills and effective communication

  • Opening yourself up to learning new things

  • Staying committed and stop complaining

Persistence can help you develop the other soft skills on this list, like goal setting and effective communication. It can also help you complete more projects on time and delegate tasks.

People respect leaders who stay on course and fight for what’s right. They want to know that you’ll have their back if their ideas are good for the company or their clients. They’re more likely to be motivated by a leader who encourages out-of-the-box ideas, uniqueness, and creativity.

3. Goal Setting

A clear sense of purpose can help motivate others to provide consistent results. Not only that, but accurate goal setting can offer focus to a messy or poorly managed project. When your employees know what you expect from them, they can deliver what you want every single time.

However, creating personal and group goals isn’t easy, as it requires an understanding of the project's scope and what your team members are capable of. You’ll need to speak to your team individually, track project metrics, and play an active role in your employee’s performance.

You can set personal and group goals by doing the following:

  • Think about the end result you want to see

  • Use the SMART goal setting acronym

  • Write your goals down or use a goal tracking program

  • Create an action plan and a timeline

  • Break goals down into smaller goals

Don’t forget to celebrate your wins and achievements, no matter how big or small.

Your employees will appreciate compliments, feedback, and gifts after a long project. Plus, employee recognition motivates your staff to improve the quality of their work.

4. Communication

Sometimes what we say gets lost in translation. Other times, a communication breakdown starts the moment a project begins. However, leaders must communicate effectively with their team members if they want to keep them motivated and informed about the project's scope.

Poor communication may also be a problem if employees don’t know who to speak to if they have a question, can’t complete a task by themselves, or don’t speak up out of fear.

In these examples, you’ll have to nominate a team leader who can effectively manage a team if it isn’t yourself. Employees who can’t complete tasks independently may need further training or mentorship. Scared employees need to be shown that they won’t be punished for speaking out.

You can also increase your communication skills by:

  • Speaking clearly and confidently

  • Using storytelling when setting goals or giving speeches

  • Practicing public speaking at seminars or in front of small groups

  • Presenting positive body language, like standing up straight

  • Write out the topics you're about to discuss

When your employees feel safe speaking up to the leaders in your organization, they’ll feel motivated to go above and beyond on projects. Plus, you can use your effective communication skills to keep your team engaged on tasks. Aim to be someone your employees can look up to.

5. Effective Feedback

Giving appropriate feedback isn’t easy for any manager, but to encourage growth in an organization, you need to develop this skill. The ability to provide positive and focused feedback is essential if you want to motivate your staff so long as your feedback is constructive.

You can start giving feedback more frequently by creating a regular evaluation system. For example, you can meet with your team members monthly or quarterly for a performance review.

When offering feedback, use empathy to gauge how a person may take said feedback. Some people internalize feedback as criticism, even if you’re doing your best not to come off that way. You may way to assure them that they aren’t in trouble or about to get fired if that’s the case.

You can give great constructive feedback by doing the following:

  • Concentrate on the behavior, not the person

  • Balance the feedback (say something good and something bad)

  • Be specific, realistic, and timely

  • Own your feedback by using first-person pronouns (“I” instead of “we”)

  • Offer continuing support to your team members

Make sure to follow up with your team members when you notice a behavioral change. If you offer negative feedback with no solution or congratulations, that could demotivate your team.

Keep in mind that feedback is a two-way street. Your employees should be able to also offer you and their other team members constructive criticism when appropriate.

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.

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.