How to Build a High-Performing and Motivated Team

“Men don’t follow titles. They follow courage.” 

from Braveheart

Just re-watch this famous scene from Braveheart where William Wallace motivates his troops to walk valiantly into battle to almost assured death.

While you’re not asking your employees to fight for freedom with their lives, the same motivation techniques hold true, no matter what the battlefield.

People are not truly motivated by fear or money.

They are motivated by purpose and passion, by a vision and a goal. But unfortunately, many companies lack this. Or, at the very least, they fail to pass this purpose and passion down from top level management to the rest of the employees.

In order to build a great team that will do great things, you have to build your organization around purpose and vision. And this applies not just within your organization, but also should be considered when choosing outside vendors.

Both in and outside of your company, you should seek to work with people that are motivated around your company vision. While it is harder to find these employees and partners, in the long run, it is worth the extra effort.

What are the keys to developing a high-performing and motivated team?

The best teams, that are both motivated and high performing, experience the following 4 distinct qualities in their jobs.

1) Purpose

Team members have a clear sense of purpose. They know what their areas of responsibility are and how their job plays into the larger vision and success of the company. They have a sense of ownership.

2) Drive

Team members are driven to succeed. They are not motivated by money. Beyond earning their paycheck, they feel driven towards the company success. This comes from being surrounded by excellence. Excellence begets excellence (and average begets average). Make sure that team members have a driven role model to help elevate them to the next level.

3) Safety

Team members feel safe in their jobs. This is the one that even companies with a great culture and vision often miss. This does not mean that employees can’t lose their jobs for making a mistake. But it does mean that they should feel safe to take risks, to push the envelope, without feeling like one foul step will ruin them. Team members should feel empowered to take actions without fear of being fired. You don’t want your employees playing it safe if you want to see true growth, and you need to encourage this culture.

4) Vision

Team members understand what the company’s vision is and have confidence in the organization’s future. It’s hard to be motivated in your job if you feel like you are part of a sinking ship. Make sure your team understands where the company is going.

Most people would agree that these 4 qualities or characteristics are necessary within a company in order to have a highly motivated and high performing team.

But the buck stops there. Most organizations don’t apply this same logic when selecting outside partners or vendors. They throw these things out of the window and take a completely different approach.

How do you cultivate highly-performing and motivated partners?

Relationships with outside partners or vendors are most often managed through fear and power dynamics. Rather than working on the same side towards a common goal, outside vendors operate under the fear of being fired at a single mistake. And the hiring company always pushes to squeeze the most out of vendors without additional compensation.

This is a huge mistake. This creates a bad relationship between the hiring company and vendors or partners, which does not lead to the most successful outcome.

Instead you need to align incentives with your partners and vendors so that even though you are not part of the same company, you are working as the same team towards a common goal, where both parties benefit with success.

People are people, and whether they are part of your company or not, they are motivated by the same things and in the same way. So apply the same logic to creating a high-performing and motivated team with outside partners as you would within your own company.

How do you do this?

First, don’t call them vendors. Call them partners. This simple change helps to change the mindset.

Search for great teams with proven experience, and then trust them to do what you hired them for (with your oversight, of course).

*Note: This likely (ok, definitely) will not be the cheapest team.

Don’t nickel and dime your partners. Compensate them for great work to keep them motivated. Align your incentives so that if they do their jobs well, you all win.

That’s how we operate at Metacake with our partners rather than playing the traditional agency role.


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