There are always going to be times when you need to ask for more from your team in your law firm, accountancy firm or other professional service firm. It may be your busy season, or maybe your firm has made headcount cuts – but the workload has stayed the same. In this blog post, we have a look at how to motivate your team to get stuck in and work harder. As the person in charge of a team you have two options:
- Shout, rant and make their life a misery (we’ve all experienced partners who work this way!)
- Motivate them to want to work harder
There are times when I’ve needed to push my teams quite hard, I know it can work – but only ever in the short term. So I’d only do it when really needed. The rest of the time it’s down to them to work hard, you can’t make them want to, you can’t actually make them work hard – so your role as a leader is to make them want to work hard. You may find our free guide to briefing your team, (email required) helps you to get your messages across.
Effort, Performance and Reward
There may be several reasons why somebody would choose to work hard, but I wanted to pick on one factor – rewards. Remember that rewards may mean different things to different people – money, flexibility, free time, recognition, appreciation, promotion…
Motivation and Victor Vroom
Victor Vroom has written books on motivation and his primary research was on the expectancy theory of motivation. Here are three steps from Vroom’s theory of motivation. Like so many things that make sense, we often don’t think of them!
3 essential steps to helping with motivation
- Expectancy: Effort will lead to performance. If the person doesn’t believe that working harder and putting in the effort will improve performance, they’ll stop doing it. This was the problem at one firm; they had adjusted the system and processes, but harder work was not producing results because nobody really understood the new process! No matter how big the reward, they couldn’t see how to improve their performance – result, no improvement.
- Instrumentality: Instrumentality is the belief that a person will receive a reward if the performance expectation is met. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked in firms where I’ve not really believed in their intention to pay the bonus; the result being that I then didn’t strive for it.
- Valence: The value the individual places on the rewards. This is where it gets interesting. I’ve never really been inspired by large bonus offers, as I am (generally speaking) not motivated by money. How about you? One firm I know all go on a joint skiing trip each year if the performance target is met. It’s a young firm and they are all keen skiers so this works really well.
When you next need to ask your team to work harder than ever, think about these three steps and see how you can use one or all of them to motivate the whole team and individuals within it. You may like to download our free guide to briefing your team.
Need more help with changing your leadership style and managing others? Take a look at & purchase our self-study courses:
- How to Delegate Like a Pro
- How to Excel as a Line Manager Self-Study Course
- How to Create a Strong-Hybrid Team self-study course
- How to Set Performance Objectives for your Direct Reports