The 3 Secrets to Building a Motivated Team and the One Missing Ingredient That’ll Bring it All Crashing Down

We work with young companies who are watching their culture evolve. They are identifying the values that will drive leadership decisions and ultimately help them build a company that succeeds. They know that the greatest tech companies are those where brilliant people deliver incredible results. But how do you motivate and engage the best in tech? Getting this right is critical but not simple.

In these conversations, I’m often reminded of the simple and powerful messages of Daniel Pink’s Drive (If you haven’t watched the video, you must…Watch Here)

In short, great results are delivered when employees are in an environment that enables three things:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery

  • Purpose

For many tech companies, the second 2 are obvious. But the first one can be elusive.

Mastery:

People are driven by the desire to excel at what they’re interested in. Let people grow their skills, work with the latest tech tools and work on really interesting and challenging problems, and you satisfy an individual’s desire for Mastery. While they are mastering the skills, they are also delivering really impressive results for your business.

Check in :

Do you ask your team about how they want to get better?

Do you provide opportunity in their daily work to practice new things, fail and grow?

Purpose:

When a tech company is solving important human problems, employees are driven to do their part to make it happen. A company that can align everyone behind an important cause will have teammates who work harder and happier – and who deliver meaningful work.

Check in:

Does everyone on the team know how the world will be a better place because of the success of your business?

Do they truly understand how the work they do each day makes this happen?

Autonomy

Great people also need to feel as though they are in control of their work. Unfortunately, if a company doesn’t also work out how to deliver on Autonomy, it can short circuit all the rest. Self-direction is a tricky to thing for many young tech companies. “If we let our people choose  how, where, and when they work and what they work on – how can we possibly get everyone marching in the same direction and hitting aggressive milestones. Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for total chaos?”

Autonomy is hard. It requires great leadership, trust and careful selection of a team that shares values and who all are believers in the mission.

When any person feels as though their employer does not trust them to make the right decisions and work with effort and dedication, they will lose engagement and eventually look to leave. If you hire micro-managers, you’ll end up with a team of mediocre performers who need to be supervised.

Check in:

Do you trust that your people will work hard to deliver great results when you’re not in the office or if they’re working remote?

Do you provide the objectives to work towards, the safety to ask questions and the space to work how and when they want?

Trust without Chaos

An autonomous workplace doesn’t lack rules and process, but is one where rules and process provide guard-rails, consistency and structure without removing free will. It is a workplace where everyone knows what results are expected, and knows that they are trusted to deliver their best.

A great leader will inspire the team to work with focus and dedication, but will give them the space and safety to make choices. This leader will provide feedback, guidance and coaching, but their main job is not to manage daily tasks but rather to keep everyone inspired and to ensure that they see how their efforts deliver on the purpose. Trust that your team will bring their best work to you. You and your company will reap the rewards.