How To Motivate Your Team

16 ways on how to motivate your team in 2023

Online business owners are constantly looking for new ways to motivate their team members.  If you find your once enthusiastic team members are just going through the motions of their job, it’s time to come up with some motivational strategies. 

When you are running an online business, it’s key to keep your team motivated and doing their best work to sustain productivity, no matter if they are a local team or remote freelancers. 

Before you decide to change out your team members, let’s look at some ways on how to motivate your team and get them performing at their best.

Tips on How to Motivate Your Team

1. Show Recognition to Your Employees

The concept of incorporating a recognition program in your online business is a bit controversial, but it’s an excellent idea.  Here’s why.  When you recognize your employees for doing a good job, you create a connection between yourself as the employer and your workers. 

When your team members feel appreciated, they are more likely to perform at optimum levels.  This can involve gifts or bonuses if you choose but is as simple as sending a thoughtful email thanking an employee for a job well done.

Or, you can elevate the recognition further by presenting them with sales awards for outstanding achievements in driving the growth of your business. If you want to learn more on sales awards and their impact on motivation and performance, you can find valuable insights and ideas on how to implement an effective recognition program that boosts both individual and team efforts. These awards not only acknowledge their hard work but also serve as a visible testament to their success.

How To Motivate Your Team

2. Create Shared Company Goals

Set goals that are above and beyond the level at which your team is currently performing.  Providing goals to strive for will push your team beyond their perceived limitations and help your online business thrive.  Don’t make these goals so lofty that your employees start to feel burn out.  Break goals down into small, manageable chunks every week, so your team has something to strive towards.

Tips for goal setting:  The most effective, proven method of pushing progress with goal setting is to use the SMART principle.  Make sure your goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timeline

3. Focus on WHY

Let’s look at a scenario.  You need your team member to share an important announcement about your online business on social media today. 

You say to your team member, “Please make sure you share this announcement on Instagram today. It’s important to me,” or you can say, “Please share this announcement on our business’ Instagram page.  This announcement is a game-changer for our online business.  If we can get multiple shares on the post, it will have a significant impact on sales.”  Which statement is most likely to motivate your team to share the announcement quickly and efficiently?

Hopefully, you said the second one.  When you share the reasons behind your directives, your team is much more likely to get on board.  Challenge your employees to know why they are doing their tasks.  It will help them prioritize by knowing what is essential and what’s not.  If your team can connect their daily tasks with the big picture of your online business mission, it will create long-term motivation.

4. Place Value on Intrinsic Rewards

Many online business owners attempt to motivate their team using extrinsic rewards, primarily money.  Money as a motivator has limitations.  Sure, we all have to pay our bills and need our paycheck.  That’s the motivation for showing up, but it doesn’t contribute to our work's value or make us happy while we’re doing it.

Intrinsic motivation values a person for their values, progress, beliefs, and autonomy.  If your team feels intrinsically motivated, their work productivity and happiness will be improved.

Try creating a set of core values for your team or online business.  What drives your approach to business?  Make these core values part of your online business culture.

How To Motivate Your Team

5. Boost Team Spirit

Ever wonder why sports teams all have matching uniforms?  It helps identify what team players are on, but more than that, it creates a sense of unity and connectedness among the players.  When everyone on a team ‘matches,’ they are working in coordination toward a common goal.

Consider branding some matching gear for your team members.  It’s easy to get custom-made T-shirts, hats, even sunglasses.  Use them as giveaways or to create a company event.  The bonus of custom gear is that it doubles as advertising for your online business. Remember, you can always post gear to your remote workers. They will appreciate it even more given the effort you've gone to, and will feel even more part of the team.

6. Let Your Team Be Independent

People, especially employees, don’t like being micromanaged.  Everyone wants to be in charge of themselves.  If you are micromanaging your team, stop.  Granting autonomy to your team members builds trust and will go a long way towards their motivation.

You want your team to be self-sufficient and create their work process.

Despite the benefits of granting your team autonomy, it’s not the usual process for businesses.  Many managers feel this can lead to employees wasting time or slacking off in their work. 

Try judging productivity by work product rather than hours at work.  If you’re running an online business with remote employees, you have the freedom that would be unavailable in a brick-and-mortar business setting. 

Let your employees choose their work hours and determine when they are most productive.  Is it necessary for your employees to work 8 hours?  Or can they get a top-notch job done in 5?  Autonomy to your employees will keep them motivated and engaged.

7. Get to Know Your Team Members as Individuals

Each of your team members has different needs.  Some might be very independent; some may need extra guidance; some are introverts, some extroverts.  Each of your team members will be motivated by different things.  The biggest mistake you can make as an online business owner is to assume a one size fits all approach for motivating your team.

Set aside a bit of time to get to know each of your team members on a more personal level.  This doesn’t mean blurring boundaries between work and personal lives, just learning to understand what makes them tick.  Knowing a bit about their lives outside of work can help you figure out ways to optimize their performance. Remember, that remote workers are often based in countries very different from yours, so make some time to learn a little about their way of life because it can be very different to what you're used to.

How To Motivate Your Team

8. Engage in Some Friendly Competition

Friendly is the key here.  Competition is a fantastic motivator but will lead to conflict if not implemented carefully.  Train your team members to motivate each other and improve the performance of the team as a whole.

Plan competitions around specific goals; reward the team as a whole, and put a system of checks and balances in place, so it’s fair.  Focus on support within your team, so you don’t encourage competition between individual members.

9. Have a Vision

Chances are, if you own an online business, you have an underlying vision for what it should look like.  Sharing this vision with your team lets them know that their efforts are for something.  Let your team members participate in the process of expanding your vision to make it better.  Feeling like part of the process gives them a sense of ownership, which is a powerful motivator.

10. Be Kind

Think back on the bosses and managers you’ve had in the past.  Which ones were your least favorite?  Why didn’t you like them?  What about the ones you did like?  Chances are the people you enjoyed working for were the ones that were kind and thoughtful.  They remembered that you were human and not just a cog in a production line.  Develop a strategy for engaging in positive, human-centered interactions with your team members.  Lead them, but be careful not to belittle them and make them resentful of your direction.

11. Offer Your Team Members Room for Advancement

There is nothing less motivating than being stuck in your job.  Making a growth plan for your business will help you retain team members. 

If your online business's growth depends on your team's individuals, ensure that those individuals can advance in their roles.  Have your team develop professional goals for themselves.  Identify ways they can use or improve on their current skill sets to meet those professional goals.

12. Be Grateful

Gratitude and recognition are not equivalent.  Recognition involves acknowledging individuals or teams for their work.  Gratitude takes this a step further by being thankful.  Gratitude as an online business owner is the process of being grateful for what your team members do instead of grumbling over what they don’t do.

Gratitude has been shown to improve brain function and reduce stress, leading to increased motivation.  An email, a handwritten note, or even a quick thank you can go a long way.

13. Be Transparent

Your credibility as an online business owner is critical to the success of your business.  By engaging in complete transparency with your team members, they will trust that you have their best interests in mind. 

Once you lose your team members' trust, it’s challenging to get it back.  This doesn’t mean sharing every detail about your business, but don’t sugarcoat things too much. 

For example, you don’t have to share your business spreadsheets with your employees.  If numbers are bad, however, you shouldn’t make it sound like they’re good.  Most likely, your team already knows if the business is up or down.  Being truthful about it will put you on the same side as them, so you can work together to either build or maintain success.

14. Build Your Own Self-Esteem

This tip will seem a little odd, given that you are looking for ways to motivate your team.  However, if you regularly practice being positive, you are more likely to project that positivity onto others.  As the team leader, your mood will affect the mood of your team members.  Practicing positive self-talk will help you project the right feelings.

15. Be Available

When you work in an office setting, your team members can drop by and ask questions anytime.  This is more difficult in remote work settings.  Make sure your schedule is adapted so employees and team members can check in with you. Using online software to help coordinate your local time with remote workers time zones is an easy way to keep this part organized.

Phone, email, and instant messaging are all valid means of communication.  Make sure to respond to team member requests in a reasonable amount of time so they know you’re listening to them.

16. Celebrate

When your team has successes, celebrate them.  You don’t have to go all out by throwing a huge party, but a team lunch or coffee can do wonders for morale.  By celebrating victories, your team will be motivated to achieve their goals.  Socialization among team members is a huge motivator and deeply linked to team members' feelings of engagement.

How To Motivate Your Team


What Do You Say to Motivate Your Team?

Here are the top things to say to your team members to make a difference:

  • Thank you – showing gratitude tells your team members that they are essential.  Telling them, you are thankful for their work is often the most influential factor in motivation.
  • What do you think? – Even though you are the owner and manager, you don’t know everything.  Asking team members for their input shows you value their opinions.
  • That’s a great idea – Tell your team members when they have good ideas.  It fosters open communication and will encourage them to share ideas in the future.
  • Can I help you? – This statement shows the difference between being a boss and being a team leader.  If you want your team to follow you, you want to be a leader
  • You will do a great job – Show faith in your team members by showing them you have confidence in their abilities and motivates them to do their best.
  • Use the term ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ – Good team leaders think of themselves as part of the team.  Use inclusive language so your team members know you’re all working together.

How Do You Motivate a Team to Improve Performance?

Improving your team’s performance doesn’t happen overnight, but there are a few things you can do to motivate them to be more productive.

Be Clear About Your Expectations

working without goals makes it difficult to evaluate performance.  Ensure your team members know what is expected of them, how you expect them to perform, and how you assess their performance.

Provide Feedback

Employees are motivated when they know where they stand with company goals.  Let your team members know they provide value to your online business.

Provide Corrections in Private

Inevitably, you will have to address an error or performance issue with a member of your team at some point.  Discussing these issues in a private conversation will prevent your employee from experiencing embarrassment in front of other team members and motivate them to improve their work.

Place Trust in Your Team Members

When you have to address a team member’s less than stellar performance, be careful about choosing your words.  Telling someone they did a lousy job or that their work product is useless will not motivate them to improve.  Phrases like, ‘I expect more from you…,’ or ‘I know you can do better than this,’ change the context of your presentation and improve future performance.

Develop Achievable Rewards

Everyone is familiar with the use of bonuses to motivate employees.  The problem with bonuses is they only go to top employees.  Motivation to perform requires that individual team members see their performance as intrinsically linked to the reward.

Instead of offering a large reward to only one or two members, develop smaller rewards at more frequent intervals.  It doesn’t have to be money.  Anything that amps up your team’s performance will do. Additionally, consider incorporating a system to give out awards for exceptional performance, which can further boost your team's motivation.

Tell Your Team What They’re Working For

This goes back to your team and your online business sharing a common goal.  People work best when they know what they’re fighting for.  Let your team members know they make a difference in your online business, and let them share in the successes they are helping you to achieve.

How Do You Energize A Team With Low Morale?

When your team is suffering from low morale, make sure to check negativity at the door.  Ensure you address your team both as a group and as individuals, ensuring everyone is aware of common goals or changes in strategy.

Sometimes motivation isn’t what your team members need.  They could be lacking the skills or information to move forwards.  Acknowledging the needs of your team members will help improve morale.  Confusion about how to move forward can sometimes be mistaken for low morale.  Talk to your team and clarify the problem before identifying a solution.  Be prepared to provide both short and long-term support for your team.

Implementing regular meetings or giving your team a step-by-step action plan will help you identify problem areas. 

Once you’ve identified the problem, you can embark on the solution.  Don’t promise anything to your team that you can’t follow through on.  Uncertainty and a lack of trust are significant sources of morale issues in the workplace. 

Share what information you can, be transparent, and act as a team leader.  Be flexible in changing your approach if what you’re doing isn’t working and respond to changes as they present themselves.

The Takeaway

There isn’t one single approach for how to motivate your team.  Hopefully, the tips provided here will help you find ways that fit your style and business strategy.  Ultimately, keeping your team members engaged and motivated will drive the success of your online business.

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