Employee Motivation: 3 Simple Ways to Get Your Team Out of a Rut

Rekindling that sense of excitement your team had in January is crucial to your success this year.

Don’t look now — it’s half-way through March and the crucial first quarter of the new year is already coming to a close. Companies should be racing as fast as possible to blow out their revenue numbers, outpace their competition’s product releases, and hire awesome new talent to ramp up the growth trajectory for the rest of the year.
But what if your team is working hard on these goals and striving to do your best, yet there seems to be some “sizzle” missing? Or maybe everything is going well, but you want to get something new and different out of your talented team.
Don’t succumb to that sneaking feeling that this year will be just more of the same. You need to break out of your rut with some quick and effective employee motivation. But just how do you rekindle that spark of innovation that so often propels an already productive organization into hyperdrive?

3 Simple Ways to Get Your Team Out of a Rut by Increasing Employee Motivation and Innovation

Looking back on the development of our Research and Analytics team at OpenView Labs over the years, we have dealt with needing to boost employee motivation a couple of times. Each time around, getting the team to shake things up and think outside the box has been exceedingly rewarding for everyone involved. As I think through how our team will evolve in the next couple of years to meet our portfolio companies’ growing need for sophisticated market insights and data analytics, I go through a very similar process.
In our organization there are a few ways that we have  gotten this done. These tips can help get your team motivated early, so that you can generate fresh ideas and perspectives before getting your head down into the execution mode.

1) Ask “Why?”

First, ask a lot of “why?” questions about your current situation, such as:

  • “Why have we been doing this particular activity?”
  • “Why are we doing it this particular way?”
  • “Why are these particular team members doing this?”

For each answer you come up with, ask more “why” questions to get to the root causes or the fundamental reasons for all of your activities. Through that process, you will expose a lot of assumptions and long-held beliefs that may not necessarily apply to the current situation. Or you might uncover new conditions where your team might be able to operate in a different way. That’s when you should shift over to asking “What if?” and see for yourself if there is a benefit in making a change, adopting a new perspective, and breaking off from the well-trodden path.
In the end, you might not end up actually changing anything at all, but the exercise itself will generate a lot of ideas and new energy.

2) Do Less

Secondly, you may find that if you try to do less, or accept a little less of the work that comes your way, your team will find time to innovate. This is not because they will actually now have the time and resources to spare for innovative activities, but rather the team will be able to actually see what is outside of the box and will be able to navigate there more easily.

3) Mix it Up

The third tactic is to devote some time for you and your team members to work with other teams in your organization. It can be as little as sitting in on meetings to observe their dynamics and understand their work, or as much as participating fully as a member in the team’s projects. Try to reach out across the organization and do not limit yourself to the teams that are similar or closely related to your team’s scope of work. Nobody disputes the merit of such cross organization pollination, but to make it really helpful to your innovative effort, you should keep an extremely open mind and adopt a learning and inquisitive attitude. Do not take any little details you see for granted.
One of our portfolio companies encouraged this with an internal innovation competition inspired by the TV show “Shark Tank”. One of the key reasons it succeeded was that it encouraged employees to reach out across departmental silos and work closely together to generate new ideas. You can read more about this successful, innovative event here.
So what are you waiting for? Go get your teams jazzed up and discover the next game-changer for your company!
How have you increased employee motivation? Share your strategies below.

Tien-Anh Nguyen
Tien-Anh Nguyen
Chief Business Officer at UserTesting

Tien Anh joined UserTesting in 2015 after extensive financial and strategic experiences at OpenView, where he was an investor and advisor to a global portfolio of fast-growing enterprise SaaS companies. Until 2021, he led the Finance, IT, and Business Intelligence team as CFO of UserTesting. He currently leads initiatives for long term growth investments as Chief Business Officer at UserTesting.
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