You want a highly motivated team? Well, then you need to walk the walk, and talk the talk every single day.
It’s easy to motivated and enthusiastic when things are going well. The true test of a CEO is how the CEO reacts when things aren’t going well.
For example, you just lost your largest customer. You’re still motivated.
Or maybe your latest funding round fell through at the worst possible moment. You’re still motivated.
You can’t ever give in to despair as CEO. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is watching how you deal with adversity. You have to stay positive and motivated regardless of how bad the situation might truly be.
Your team’s motivation starts with you and your actions. These actions include:
A. You need to hire a fanatical team.
Specifically, you want a team that lives and breathes what your company is working on. You want a team with a great attitude. In short, you want fanatics.
Fanatics keep going even when times get rough. Fanatics don’t care if the odds are against them. Fanatics don’t need you to motivate them because they motivate themselves. Then…
B. Give your team exciting work to do.
You’ve got a great team. The easiest way to keep your team motivated is give your team exciting work to do.
In fact, you should do more than give your team exciting work. You should give your team more authority, more autonomy, and more decision-making ability. Then…
C. You need to Be transparent with your team.
You’re going to have missteps and mistakes. That’s a given.
How you handle the missteps and the mistakes makes all the difference. The natural reaction is to downplay these mistakes.
Don’t do that. Use your missteps and mistakes as a way to show your humility.
Your openness and honesty will build trust. And, because you have a great team, you’ll find your team will become your partner in helping solve the problems you encounter building your company. Then…
D. You want to Create a great work environment. — No brilliant jerks.
Do you want to demotivate your team? Then hire that brilliant jerk you’re thinking about hiring.
I’ve been there. I know the allure of hiring brilliant jerks is tough to ignore.
You’re having trouble finding top talent. I get it. Then you get a resume. The engineer’s background looks promising.
Then you interview the engineer. Sure enough, the engineer is technically brilliant, but you can see there might be interpersonal issues.
You go ahead and hire the engineer. Then the complaints start coming in.
“We’ll make it work,” you say to yourself.
Then one of your best engineers quits. Then another.
Don’t make the mistake I made. Keep morale high by keeping the brilliant jerks out of your company. Then…
E. You want to Hold your team accountable.
Great employees want to be held accountable. Now, I’m not suggesting you micromanage your team. In fact, I’m a big believer in giving your team as much autonomy as possible.
I am suggesting you set goals and objectives for your team, and hold them (and you) accountable for meeting the goals. Then…
F. You want to Use Kaizen, the theory of small incremental goals.
Since we’re on the subject of goals, use Kaizen to build momentum in your organization. Kaizen is the concept of using small, incremental goals to achieve larger goals.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t set your big, hairy audacious goal. I am saying that setting small, achievable incremental goals is the way to get to your big goal.
For example, let’s say you have a long-term goal of $10M/Year in revenue. You should absolutely set that as a long-term goal.
And you should set your monthly goals accordingly. Maybe your first month’s revenue goal is $1,000. Then set your first monthly goal at $1,000.
And then make sure you hit the goal!
Then you do it again the next month, and you keep doing meeting your short-term goals every month.
That’s how you build momentum, and that’s how you keep your team motivated on the road to your long-term big hairy audacious goal. Then…
G. Set rewards for hitting your goals — celebrate your successes.
Building a company should be fun for you and your team. Yes, there’s a lot of grinding you have to do, but there’s no reason you can’t celebrate your success along the way.
Give your team a reward when you hit certain objectives. For example, you just launched your first product, on schedule no less, so you give your team free movie tickets.
You had your first $1,000 month of revenue (remember the goals are small at the start), so you give each member of your team a $10 Starbucks gift card.
You just got to cash flow positive (this is a huge goal for any startup), you give every member of your team a $1,000 bonus and throw a blowout party that, momentarily, sets you in the red.
You get the idea. Make the goals and the rewards consistent with your company.
And make the rewards somewhat frequent like at least once every quarter. That way you keep the dopamine coming. Then…
H. You absolutely, positively want to get rid of the bad apples.
I already told you to stay away from brilliant jerks. But what should you do about the employees that aren’t working out even if they are a founder?
Everyone’s watching what you’re going to do when someone isn’t working out. And the longer you wait to take action, the worse things will get.
Your team will lose motivation if there are employees that are disruptive or just not performing well. You have no choice if you want a motivated team but to take action and remove the underperforming employees.
The reaction when you do take action is always the same. “What took you so long?”
Your employees always know who needs to go long before you do.
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to keep your team motivated. You can hire a great team, give your team exciting work, be transparent, create a great work environment, hold your team accountable, use Kaizen, set rewards for hitting your goals, and get rid of your bad apples.
Finally remember, most importantly, that your team’s motivation starts with you and your actions.