What Can The Army Teach IT Managers About Motivating Their Team?

by drjim on April 30, 2015

The military can teach us a thing or two about how to motivate our troops

The military can teach us a thing or two about how to motivate our troops
Image Credit: The U.S. Army

Just leading a team of IT professionals is not enough. The company is expecting your team to accomplish very specific things. What this means for you is that you are going to have to convince your team to do things that will allow you to get those goals done. In other words, you’ll need to find a way to motivate them. Just exactly how to motivate a team is something that many of us have never learned in out IT manager training; however, the good news is that the military has faced the same challenge and we may be able to learn a thing or two from them.

Why Motivation Matters To The Military

Motivation is a critical component when it comes to getting members of the military to work together to achieve a shared goal. In the military, there are times when members of the team can get killed. When this happens, the motivation of a team will be at an all-time low.

Military leaders need to step in at this time and allow members of the team express how they are feeling. Next, they need review what happened and uncover ways to prevent it from happening again. The key is to make sure that everyone understands that the team’s goal is to prevent something like this from a happening in the future. The military wants to minimize their losses.

What all leaders need to understand is that every team is going to experience a set of setbacks at some time or another. These setbacks can deliver a blow to the team’s motivation. It is going to be your job as an IT manager to identify when these events occur. Just like in the military, you are going to have to know how to take action to shore up your team’s motivation at times like this.

How The Military Motivates Their Teams

IT managers need to understand how motivation of their team is going to happen. More often than not, just llike in the military it’s going to come about when you have a talk with them. It will be through the power of your words that you’ll be able to transform them from a dispirited group of IT professionals into a unified team that is highly motivated.

The way that you can make this happen is when you talk with your team you take the time to tell your team that you really do care about each one of them. Using their name and referring to what they are working on makes what you are saying very personal.

The next thing that you need to do is to let every member of your team that you have trust in them. They need to know that you trust them to perform their jobs correctly. This will let them know that you won’t be micromanaging them. Finally, you need to let your team know that each member’s unique job matters to what the company is trying to accomplish. By doing their job, they’ll be able to help the company achieve what its goals are.

What All Of This Means For You

Anybody can lead a team. However, in order to get the most out of your team you are going to have to find ways to motivate them. What this means is that you are going to have to take a look at how the military accomplishes this task and see if you can use any of their tricks.

Motivation is critical to the military. Their soldiers are facing life-threating situations and they may be asked to do things that on the surface don’t seem to make a lot of sense. Motivation is the key to getting everyone to do their part of what needs to be done. What’s important when you are motivating your team is to let everyone know that they are important, that you trust everyone to do what they need to do, and that what each person is going to do really does matter to the team’s ability to reach its goal.

We’ve all see high performing IT teams and have probably wished that our team could be performing at that level also. It turns out that the leader of that team just might have been a very good motivator. Work on developing your motivation skills and your team just might become one of those teams that everyone else wishes that they were a part of.

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

Question For You: Motivation sounds hard to do. How much time each week do you think that you should spend trying to motivate your team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So how big was your IT team’s budget this year? Hmm, not big enough? Just image what you could do if you had had a bigger budget! As the planning for next year’s budgets starts to gear up, every IT manager out there dreams of getting more money so that his or her team can do more. However, very few of us have had the IT manager training that is needed to get more money. Let’s take a look at what 5 skills this requires.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Olu May 4, 2015 at 8:34 am

This is one area most of the managers and not just IT managers are negleting. Motivation plays a great role for a successsful team

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drjim May 8, 2015 at 7:11 am

Jack: You make a very good point. What a lot of us don’t realize is that if we can find a way to motivate our team, then a number of other problems will just go away…

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