Q: I have a team that has volunteered to do a project with me. They have agreed to do the work on the project and understand that completing the project will be of benefit to them in terms of their growth and potential future opportunities. Even though they have signed up to do the project, they consistently fall short of the pre-work for our meetings or reschedule meetings that have been set. What can I do to motivate them to do the work they agreed to and get the benefit out of the program that I think they will have if they participate more fully?
A: It sounds like you are working to motivate others to do something that you see as a benefit to them. I am also sensing from your question that the team may not see as much benefit in the program as you see for them, at least that seems to be the case from the lack of action and commitment you are seeing.
One place to start might be to check in with the team and see what they think the benefit of the activity is and if they are getting what they expected from the program. Often we see opportunity in things from our perspective of experience that someone new to the event may not yet see. Listen to how your team answers the question on what they expect to get. If they are unclear on potential benefit for themselves, that may be part of what is holding them back from fully participating. Think about ways that you can make those benefits of the program more tangible to them and more in line with what they said they are expecting from the project.
Another potential motivator for the team could be around the consequences for the entire team if they don’t do their part. If people understand that the whole program will suffer, and others will get less benefit from the program if everyone doesn’t participate fully – that can motivate people to participate. Most people don’t like to let down their team or be seen as someone who is an obstacle. By helping people see where not only are they not getting full benefit, but they rob the rest of the team from some benefit may help with motivation.
The last thing I will suggest is to look at your expectations of the benefits of the program and the level of participation from others and see if what you expect aligns with what the team is getting. You may be frustrated that the team isn’t getting the full benefit from your project, while the team may not want what you want for them. I suggest you ask the team for their own ideas on how to increase participation. Perhaps it is as simple as the time of day you have scheduled meetings. When you enroll your team in finding a solution, they will be more likely to follow through with the plan they committed to as a group. Be curious – ask what is getting in the way of full participation – you may find that the team feels like certain aspects of the project are unimportant and so they deprioritize those. If they are important to you – try to provide a clear reason why those activities are critical and what will be missing without them.
Don’t give up. It sounds like you are really committed to provide value to your team. Help them understand in very clear terms what that value is, enlist their help to tweak the program so that both you and they have a sense of accomplishment with the program.
What are your thoughts on encouraging people to participate? Do you have a question for Ask A Coach? Submit it in the comments or write to Nikki@RidgelineCoaching.com