Business coach with whistleAs a recruiting team leader, at some point in your career, you may  find yourself at the head of an unmotivated and under performing recruitment team that is failing to hit all its key metrics and failing to cooperate effectively as a team. It could be that you have inherited an existing team or it may be possible that your own team has faced many challenges and has become jaded to some degree. Whatever the situation, as the hiring team leader your main priorities will be to re-energize this team and to get it firing on all cylinders again.

This is the time when you will need to deploy some effective motivational tactics to help you connect with and re-engage your hiring team. Therefore, I thought  it would be useful to outline four proven methods of lifting unmotivated teams, which you may be able to use as part of your process of re-engaging an unmotivated hiring team – a situation that I fully acknowledge may not have been of your making.

The four methods that I am suggesting to re-energize teams are supported by a research paper by the University of Southern California, titled 5 Research-Tested Team Motivation Strategies and you can find them below.

1. Rehabilitate any weak links by fostering a supportive environment

Studies show that in teams where there is a perceived “weak link” (which means other team members think they are inadequate), the team effectiveness is significantly reduced.  And the research-tested remedy to this situation is to create a supportive environment where team members respect and help one another. In this sort of nurturing environment the less capable team members (weak links) generally perform much better, and will put more effort into developing their skills over time.

2. Encourage weaker team members to improve their skills

Another research-tested way to re-energize an unmotivated team is to further focus on motivating the weak team member or members. The way to do this is to communicate to the team member that not only is their contribution important, but that other team members want to see an improvement.

And, when providing feedback to the team member about performance, the team leader should emphasize that the team member’s lack of performance is due to a lack of effort as opposed to a lack of ability, because the research suggests that if the weak links feel that their lack of success is down to not being capable, hard work may be discouraged.

Also, as the weaker team member puts in more efforts and develops these skills, the team should show appreciation.

3. Develop a culture of cooperation by highlighting combined efforts

It can be challenging to get teams to be cooperative during hard times, especially when the natural tendency may be to break apart and form silos. The way to develop team cooperation is to hold debriefing session after every team success or failure. During this debriefing, it is vital that you describe in detail the interactions between members of the team that have led to the success or failure. If team members see success as being down to interactions between them as a group and not exclusively due to their own individual contributions, they will over time become more cooperative.

4. Eradicate ‘social loafing’ by recognizing individual contributions to the team effort

If individuals within a team feel that their individual efforts are not being noticed – that is, they are just one of the crowd — they will reduce their effort. This effect is known as ‘social loafing‘. So, as well as developing a culture of cooperation and support of weaker team members,  you should also make sure that each individual team member’s effort is being accurately and fairly evaluated. Research shows that if you do this, ‘social loafing’ is virtually eradicated. I do realize that steps three and four are slightly contradictory, so its about striking the right balance between the two.

There are many complicated steps involved in revitalizing an unmotivated hiring team, which are far to numerous to mention here, and which will need to be tailored to each situation. However, I hope these tips will serve as a useful addition to the range of team motivation tools you have at your disposal.

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