DEV Community

Cover image for Aim for inspiration; motivation will follow.
Shahar Polak
Shahar Polak

Posted on

Aim for inspiration; motivation will follow.

Every organization's role has its challenges, and as much as I wish to tackle them all, I'll go with the bite-sized chunks and share my two cents about motivation.

Motivating your team and keeping high morale is one of the fundamental challenges every manager needs to master.
Is it an easy task? No-no-no.

There are so many things that can go wrong in the process without considering the manager's own motivation.
I can not talk through the eyes of every manager in the world, but I can share some of the experience I had with managers over the years and my managerial style and its progress during the past two decades.

So before I begin, I wish to share a tiny piece of one of my first f%^&kups as a manager. Let's go back almost 20 years ago to 2003, to a time, information flows were sooo much different from today, and I was a young operation sergeant in the Israeli Defense Force.
With little knowledge of how to treat my platoon, I was sure that the sun was revolving around me with a sense of entitlement that was highly misplaced.
One of my female soldiers was underperforming horribly; instead of understanding why I decided that the best approach is to go hard on her without even hearing her side of the story.
Then the crying river burst, bawling her eyes out, and the 19 years old me didn't know what to do or say. Between the tears, she has managed to tell me that she just had an abortion.
My inner world had crumbled.
At that moment, I gave her a big hug and told her I'm here for whatever she needs, I know it can not undo the way I've behaved, but I was determined to ease her pain in whatever way possible.

That day will stay with me for decades to come.

1) Inspire your team

It's effortless to tell people what to do, but I highly doubt it if this is how people wanna live their life, always being told what to do.

Instead of telling your employees what to do, tell them what you believe. Your job is to inspire and guide them, but let them pave the way, and I promise you, you are to be rewarded with happy, loyal and enthusiastic employees.

You make decisions that impact the success or failure of your team. As a leader, you are not meant to be a martyr. With this in mind, think about how you want your team to feel about working with you. Are they thankful and energized? Do they respect you? Do they enjoy the process, and can they see themselves performing well in your environment?

Trust is built through communication, and your members will feel comfortable sharing information with you. Try asking the members of your team, "What's going well?" "What can I do to help?" "How can we improve?" Also, listen to your team.

2) Lead your team

In order to truly empower your employees, you have to be willing to create a common language within your teams, know what the mistakes are that you are ready to let them make, and trust them when they want to try something that challenges the status quo.

It's not all about producing endless worksheets. There are several important aspects to making work fun and inspirational. Make it authentic, offer challenging work, give your employees permission to do their best, and let them know that you are committed to helping them grow and succeed.

Building their confidence and the chance to rise to the challenge. People usually like to do the stuff that they are good at. True, each and every single one of us needs to do things that we unnecessarily love and have to eat some frogs every now and then.
But if you see that an employee talks about a subject passionately, know if you could let them do it a bit more often, you'd be surprised how much they will go above and beyond.

Besides, try to let the team know why you've made the choices you've made. You are not operating in a vacuum, and transparency works both ways. The last word can be yours, but let your team be part of the process of coming to those conclusions.

3) Reward your team

Many see the financial reward as the best reward, I would like to suggest another approach.
I do find acknowledgment as a reward that goes a more extended range than any financial compensation I've ever received. How come?

Whenever any team member does outstanding work, being an exceptional team player, or had a great idea, you should let them know, not only to them but also to the rest of the team/group/company.

At my previous company, we used to have happy-hour every Thursday, and we started this tradition from day one of the company when every week could have been our last.
It started with thanking for everything we have managed to do this week and be thankful for each other. After some time, it has become the most iconic ritual in the company, where we gave authentic phrases to each other and a place where we could share our gratitude.

Be aware that some people do not feel comfortable getting praise in public, so feel free to express this gratitude in private.

You do not have to be a manager to lead.
Many leaders do not have an official title, but people will follow them because they believe. they can communicate their visions clearly.

One of my favorite authors of all times, Simon Sinek, said, "People don't buy WHAT you do: they buy WHY you do it".
I find this sentence to be my own personal guideline.

When I've joined BreezoMeter, a company that helps fight air pollution, I've done it because my wife has asthma. This is my story, and this is where it meets me.
After six years, when I've decided that it is my time to move on, I've joined ActiveFence, a fantastic company that helps fight bad actors online and make the internet a safer place. As a father, this is where it met me - creating a safe environment for my kid and all the other kids out there in the world.

Even before I had a managerial role, I have shared my personal WHY, that what connected me to the people I work with, the belief that we are paving the way together to the exact cause.

4) Be present

This last piece of advice is for everyone, not only leaders and managers.

When my son was born almost 6 years ago, I found myself sitting with him, but I wasn't really there. While I was sitting with my son, I was on my phone, scrolling Facebook, looking at how other people spend time with their kids. I know what you are thinking, what a jerk, and yes, you are right.
After doing some introspective, I've realized how much injustice I've created. I have deprived my son and me of having the time of our lives and making memories together.

It seems that all we need to do to write everything off in our to-do lists is multitasking. Well... don't. In any conversation, just be there. It is not enough to place your phone in your pocket on silent; you need to turn off all those mental notifications.

People can sense when you are not present, so please give them your undivided attention.

Top comments (4)

goldbergyoni profile image
Yoni Goldberg

Really like this, management is so different from our basic intuition, probably because we grew in an environment that is used to teach by discipline, not using inspiration

Especially loved that part about "When my son was born almost 6 years ago, I found myself sitting with him, but I wasn't really there"...

polakshahar profile image
Shahar Polak

Thank you so much Yoni, it really amazing hearing that from you!

In general, I feel that becoming a father has "forced" me to be more engaged and focus, at home as well as at work.

When I'm conducting a meeting at work, I'm asking everyone to hide their phones, and turn off their laptops (pre-zoom-era), and I can totally see the difference in everyonces engagement, once all we focus on is each other and the task at hand.

ziv profile image

Super inspiring, thanks for sharing

polakshahar profile image
Shahar Polak

Ziko, you are part of my inspiration!