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Managing Fast-Paced Teams

The heat of the summer is setting in (at least it is here in southern Ontario, Canada) and landscape crews are running flat out to get all of their work done on time and on budget (well, to the best of their ability anyway). When your teams are pushed to their max and they’re putting their top level effort into it, how do you keep them motivated to maintain the pace?

There’s a lot of season left and maintaining a high pace is hard. It’s hard for everyone. There are a lot of ways to keep your teams engaged, but they all boil down to three fundamentals:

The Right People, With the Right Skills

Making sure you have the right people on your team can be a challenge. So, start at the beginning when you’re bringing new people into the team. Begin with the end in mind and identify who the ideal person would be and what set of skills you would like them to have to be at their peak level. But what about the people already on your team? Do you have a culture of personal and professional development? Rewarding your top people is key, but paying the right amount of attention to those that are struggling with performance will pay off. If it’s a matter of capability, it could entirely be because they just haven’t received the right training. Investing in your people is a win-win-win. It’s a win for them as they are evolving in their job/career path, it’s a win for you because they become better at what they do, and it’s a win for your client because the quality of their work will increase.

Internal & External Motivation

There are many internal and external factors that affect a team member’s motivation. I think we can all agree a good starting point here is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Get to know the people that are on your team rather than paint everyone with the same brush. Knowing what drives the individuals on your team can offer insight to what will motivate them to step outside of their comfort zone and take their performance to the next level.

Internal motivation is all about striving towards a goal for personal satisfaction or accomplishment. To engage and enhance someone’s internal motivation, focus on challenging them, peak their curiosity, create friendly and positive competition, and recognize their accomplishments.

External motivation refers to behavior driven by rewards like money, fame, grades, and praise from someone in a leadership position. Think of these as tangible motivation factors. These can be used to motivate team members to upgrade or acquire new skills. External motivation factors can also be used to be a source of feedback for the team, reinforcing desired performance outcomes.

Clear Understanding of Expectations

Setting expectations with your team is a key step to developing a productive working relationship between you (the leader) and your team. Some expectations that might seem fundamental to you may not be so much to your team, so make sure you discuss and document your expectations. Make sure everyone knows how communication should occur and when, working hours, production goals, operational styles, meeting frequencies, and career goals. It’s always easier (as a leader) to provide feedback (both positive and negative) when there are clearly identified expectations that have been shared with the entire team.