7 things you can do in 15 minutes to motivate your team

Kathleen Escarcha, staff writerKathleen Escarcha, staff writer

As colleges and universities face rising pressure to meet the ever-changing needs of students, reach challenging enrollment goals, and cultivate an inclusive campus environment, it's no wonder that higher ed leaders and their teams can get overwhelmed.

But when higher ed teams burn out, their mistakes won't just hurt the institution, they may hurt the students they've promised to serve.

Fortunately, leaders who provide a supportive and positive environment can help offset some of their team's stress. Here are a few of my favorite small actions that can have a big effect on team morale. 

1: Cancel a meeting

Some meetings are a necessary and valuable use of every attendee's time. Others are... not. When you hold purposeless meetings, you take away from your team's ability to do what needs to be done, says one productivity expert. Here are seven types of meetings you can cancel now.

2: Articulate the broader mission

Employees who are inspired by their organization's mission are more likely to be engaged. Remind your team that the stakes are high because the mission of your institution is so important to the broader community—and you and your team's contributions to that mission are invaluable, recommends Donna Lehmann, an assistant vice president at Fordham University.

Engage staff in the mission: Turn your vision statements into strategic goals

3: Congratulate a recent achievement

Recognizing your employees for a job well done is free, easy to do, and motivating for them to hear. Don't wait until your team delivers unbelievable results to praise them, says Gordon Tredgold, a leadership consultant. Instead, recognize their efforts along the way to keep them engaged throughout the process, he suggests.

4: Send your team home

Long-term success requires a healthy and happy team. To make your employees feel valued, discourage them from working excessive hours and tell them to go home when it's getting late, Tredgold recommends.

5: Avoid after-hours emails

In a culture where most of us have constant access to email, it is especially important for leaders to encourage employees to take time to recharge and limit after-hours emails to urgent subject matters.

"Over time, most people realize that there's very little that can't wait" and that making an effort to have fulfilling lives outside of work is just as important as professional success, says one productivity expert.

Related: 10 habits most likely to make your employees quit, ranked

6: Hold off on "just checking in" with your team

Micromanaging is one of the 10 boss habits most likely to make your employees quit, according to a survey by BambooHR. When you micromanage, you can hurt team's productivity and earn a poor reputation as a leader, Tredgold warns. Instead, give your team discretion and independence, and avoid certain habits that may be signs of micromanagement.

7: Say thank you

Expressing more gratitude at work is a simple way to get more done, build healthy relationships, and keep your team motivated. About 80% of Americans said receiving gratitude motivated them to work harder, yet only 10% were grateful to others at work on a daily basis, according to one survey.

Recognizing your team doesn't need to be formal. You can send a simple note or walk around the office to thank people for their hard work.

Also see: How "superbosses" support diverse teams


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