How To Avoid Killing Your IT Team’s Motivation

IT managers need to find ways to motivate their teams
IT managers need to find ways to motivate their teams
Image Credit: John Jewell

As an IT manager, your performance is going to be judged by what your team is able to accomplish. What this means is that it is your responsibility to use you IT manager skills to motivate them to work hard to complete the tasks that you assign to them. This motivation thing turns out to be a bit tricky because we’ve never had IT manager training in how to do it: getting a group of people to all work towards the same goal is not easy to do. In addition to finding ways to motivate our teams, we also have to be very careful to not kill what motivation they already have.

Where Does Motivation Come From?

Before we spend a lot of time talking about how you can avoid killing your team’s motivation, we probably should step back for just a moment and take a look at where motivation comes from. Most of us think that we already know what it takes to motivate a team – we’re all experts. The reality is that more often than not we don’t. What we don’t seem to realize is that creating motivation is not something that you can bring in a consultant to do, instead it’s an inside thing. This means that as an IT manager, it’s your job to find ways to motivate your team.

If you are going to both motivate your team and keep them motivated, then you are going to have to avoid killing their motivation. The first thing that you need to understand is that if you have not provided your team with some sort of vision, then you can kiss their motivation good bye. As they do their work, they need to be working towards something. This has to be something that makes them proud and that they feel that they can hold on to.

Along with a vision you need to have a way to make that vision happen. This means that you have to have a plan that you have shared with your team. Your team wants to make progress towards turning your vision into a reality, but if they don’t have a plan then they are not going to be able to do this. The plan has to lay out for them how they can take the abstract ideas that are part of the vision and turn them into something that is real and tangible.

Ways To Not Kill A Team’s Motivation

How you behave is a key part of the level of motivation that your team will have. The one thing that you don’t want to do is to tell your team one thing and then end up doing something else. The reason that this is so bad is because in order to be motivated, your team needs to be able to trust you. When they discover that they can’t trust you, then your team’s respect for both you and what you say will slip away and this will have a negative impact on their motivation.

Control over our team is something that we all crave. However, we need to keep in mind that we are trying to manage a group of IT professionals who really don’t like being weighed down with a lot of different restrictions on what they can do. This is why if you start to make up rules that provide you with more control over what your team does, it’s going to backfire on you. We need to understand that being a successful IT manager is not accomplished by creating more rules. Your team will start to lose respect for you the more rules that you saddle them with. You are telling them that you don’t feel as though you are in control and this is going to end up killing their motivation.

As an IT manager, you really don’t accomplish all that much. Instead, it’s what your team accomplishes that will reflect on you. As your team completes tasks and reaches milestones, it will be only natural for people to start to congratulate you for what you’ve been able to accomplish. What you do next is going to be very important. If you don’t give credit where it is due – to the members of your team, then you’ll be killing your team’s motivation. Very quickly your team will see what you are doing (or failing to do) and they’ll stop trying. This can end up making you look bad.

What All Of This Means For You

IT managers are in charge of a team of IT professionals. It is our job to provide them with guidance and direction so that they can accomplish tasks that will allow the company to move forward. In order to make this happen, your team has to be motivated. This means that you are responsible for providing the IT team building that will motivate them. The one thing that you want to make sure that you don’t do is to kill their motivation.

Motivation is an inside thing. If you don’t want to kill your team’s motivation then you need to make sure that they know what they are doing: you have to provide them with a vision to work towards. A vision is a great thing, but if you don’t have a plan for how that vision is going to be achieved then your team won’t be motivated to achieve it. You need to be careful what you say and do. If what you are saying is not what you are doing then your team will stop trusting you and motivation will suffer. Getting your team to do what you want them to do is a matter of control. If you create too many rules and regulations, then your team will push back and won’t be motivated. As your team accomplishes their goals, you need to be careful to make sure that you give credit where it’s due. Not doing this will kill your team’s motivation.

Motivation is almost like a very delicate flower. You need to plant it and tend to it carefully if you want it to grow. However, just like a flower, if you are not careful you can easily end up killing it. You need to be aware of what actions you might take that could adversely impact your team’s motivation and then not do them. Be aware and make sure that your team remains motivated so that they can accomplish everything that you need them to do.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to make sure that your team knows that you are giving them credit for all that they’ve done?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all attended boring meetings. We probably didn’t want to go in the first place but our IT manager training didn’t show us how to avoid attending. When we got there we really didn’t care about the things that were being discussed. Once it was all over, we promptly forgot all about it and took no actions based on what was discussed. Clearly this was a complete waste of our time and our IT manager skills. Is it possible that the people who are attending the meetings that you are holding feel the same way? If so, then you have a problem on your hands and you need to do something about it.