7 Compelling Ways To Get The Best From Your Employees To Boost Your Business- Part 4


5. Remember That Progress Motivates

There is a ‘lust to finish’ (John Wesley) and the key principle is that progress motivates. We are motivated, not just our own progress in meeting our individual needs, but also in meeting

the needs of the group emanating from the commitment of achieving the common task. If people know and feel that they are moving forwards they tend to put in more effort. Human beings like to succeed.

Feedback on the progress made is crucial. Without feedback people don’t know if they are making progress or not. Progress (or even the relative lack of progress) helps motivation– either to spur people on or to concentrate the mind on what yet needs to be done to achieve the desired outcome.

Sometimes feedback is given in a negative, criticising way as a means of expressing annoyance or anger. This does nothing positive for the feeling of motivation within a team or an individual.

Improvement suggestions or constructive criticism, handled in the correct way and given at the appropriate time, helps to maintain performance levels. It allows people and teams to continue to move in the right direction with confidence despite difficulties or set backs

Feedback is sometimes inaccurate, not given at all or not often enough, usually for these reasons:

  • ‘People don’t need to be told how they are doing, they already know’
  • ‘People take it easy and become complacent if you say things are going well’
  • ‘They are unhappy and cause trouble if you say things are not going well’
  • ‘We lack the skills or the time to do it effectively’
  • ‘It’s not one of our priorities so we don’t spend time doing it’
  • ‘It’s not seen as relevant to the job in hand’.


Giving feedback and information on progress has the effect of ‘Topping up’ motivational levels. By giving praise for a job well done or a task successfully completed, you are helping individuals and teams to build on their strengths and take steps towards further progress. Praise is a great morale and motivation booster. Improvement suggestions or constructive criticism, handled in the correct way and given at the appropriate time, helps to maintain performance levels. It allows people and teams to continue to move in the right direction with confidence despite difficulties or set backs .

It is easy to criticise and sometimes we spend too much time doing that rather than praising the achievements, however small. Remember though, don’t praise without reason otherwise it becomes meaningless, empty and insincere and will not achieve the results you were hoping for.

Feedback which is affirmative (praise) must be:

  • Accurate
  • Sincere
  • Generous
  • Spontaneous
  • Fair.

It must not be:

  • Patronising
  • Superior/condescending
  • Grudging
  • Calculated for effect.

Briefing the team about the tasks that lie ahead is an effective way of communicating your own enthusiasm and inspiration for the plan of action about to be embarked upon. This is a good time to energise and motivate the team, and lift their spirits.

 Maintaining motivation depends on informing and inspiring, and the rule is always to give information first before you attempt to encourage. Remember, truth is the basis of inspiration. The reality of the situation is what motivates people, not you the leader. You are just the conveyor of that truth and reality. Maintaining high morale is key to high motivation and covers the individuals and the team. Morale is the mental and emotional attitude of an individual or a team, to the task or targets in hand. It is also about the sense of a common purpose and a respect within a team. If you sense there is a drop in levels of morale you will need to identify if it is an individual who has problems or if it is coming from the team in general. How people relate to each other and talk amongst themselves creates a type of atmosphere which you will be able to pick up on.

Signs of low morale can be identified by listening out for remarks such as:

  • ‘We are on a losing streak’
  • ‘What good is all this extra effort doing?’
  • ‘Does anyone know where we’re heading? We seem to be going round in circles’
  • ‘This industry has no future’
  • ‘The targets are unrealistic, we are beaten before we even start’
  • ‘We need better leader to direct us through this’
  • ‘The strategic plan is just something to keep head office busy’
  • ‘We are a second class organisation, we don’t have a hope of competing against the others in our market

These types of remarks are usually heard in informal settings, so that is where you should be looking out for them. Where an individual has low morale, the issues have to be addressed on an individual basis, but where group or team morale is low, the answer lies in deciding whether there is a lack of confidence:

  • of ultimate success
  • in the present plan(s)
  • in the leadership/management
  • in the minds of team members.

It can be necessary to re-motivate the team by rebuilding self-confidence and by re-addressing:

  • aims – and clarifying objectives
  • plans, resources needed
  • leadership
  • overlooked factors

Also, think about the following areas of the task which may make a difference to morale:

  • What is the value of the task(s) to those trying to achieve it?
  • Are the objectives and purposes of the task clear to all those involved?
  • Does everyone in the team understand why they have been asked to help achieve this task?
  • Has the task been clearly broken down into aims and objectives?
  • Are all the necessary tools and resources available for the achievement of the task to be possible?
  • Is there good team leadership in place?
  • Did the team and the individuals have an involvement in the key decision-making and planning stages?
  • Should the present plan be changed or modified in light of new findings?
  • Have any factors been overlooked that could make a difference to the structure of the plan?

Be certain to communicate any changes of direction or changes to the plan carefully and clearly to all those involved. If possible, allow the team to have an input into the decision-making

process. This will boost their sense of belonging and value, and therefore heighten levels of morale. Let the team know that you believe in them, that you have confidence in them and that you know you can work together to get the project back on track. Do not give them false promises or hopes but do give

them the truth – they will respect you for it and be motivated by it.

To create a motivating environment, remember the following points:

1 Beware of creating a restrictive organisation with an overemphasis on controls

2 Never criticise individuals publicly, do it in private and in a constructive manner

3 Ensure Herzberg’s hygiene factors are catered for – the physical and psychological well-being of people should have high priority

4 Control systems should only be introduced where necessary

5 Give people an opportunity to input into the decisions which affect their working lives (especially in respect of substantial change)

6 Keep units and sub-units as small as possible (for large units tend to be bureaucratic and de-motivational if they lack inspired leaders)

7 Pay attention to job design – avoid repetitive work, introduce variety and avoid boredom and monotony

8 Give people autonomy and a job with a ‘product’ that an individual can recognise as his/her own

9 Ensure an individual understands the significance of their job in relation to the whole, which will also encourage new ideas and innovation.


Checklist: Do you use progress as a tool for motivation?

  • Do you actively encourage people while they are involved in a task?



  • Do you give regular feedback about progress to individuals?



  • Do you give regular feedback about progress to the team?




  • Do you take an overall view of the team and task in hand, and evaluate levels of morale throughout?



  • Is morale an important attribute to you and your team?



  • Do you and your team see the organisation as an inspirational one?



  • Are you able to identify when morale is falling and act effectively to get it back on track?



  • If things become difficult are you still able to provide enough encouragement to your team to keep them motivated?



Related Posts