by Kerry Alison Wekelo | December 21, 2017
The key to engaging and motivating your team is empowering them. In today's world, where troublesome events are plentiful and we are increasingly connected across the globe, employees more than ever want to be a part of an organization where they feel they can make a difference. Here are three tips to engage and motivate your employees. 

Practice bidirectional accountability. When leaders and their teams are held accountable in each situation, employees learn that they are part of a team in all decisions; this leads to engaged, motivated, and satisfied team members. Starting from the onboarding process, name how you will support your employees' success and how they in turn will take accountability for what they want, what is not working well for them, and what they enjoy most. Management and team members who take accountability in their roles at work stop blaming the politics, culture, or boss and instead get clear on what they truly want. For example, maybe you are frustrated with a complicated process and have an idea for streamlining it. Instead of complaining to co-workers about how the process is broken, set a goal to develop a proposal stating what is working now and how the process can be enhanced. Or maybe you have a difficult relationship with a co-worker; set a goal to find a way to relate positively instead of gossiping.

Regularly conduct employee surveys. An important way to engage and motivate your employees is for your organization to actively listen to team members through anonymous surveys (consider smaller, more frequent surveys throughout the year). Employees have direct experience with the inner and outer workings of the organization, so ask them what they think of how things are working (or not). Employees who are able to contribute ideas of their own to the team will be happier with the results of changes or new initiatives. Your organization will also be able to more accurately provide the support and opportunities that employees actually want, thus driving the empowerment of your teams. To make the surveys effective, your organization must also provide detailed results back to your team in a timely way and create an implementation plan that includes some of your employees' ideas. Be sure to also denote the themes of suggestions you are not implementing and why. 

Encourage team connection. Suggest that your team members get together outside of work to socialize and participate in activities that support a social cause. Team building is an effective motivator; getting together as a firm helps reduce stress and build closer relationships, which in turn promotes better teamwork and greater work satisfaction. Plus, the activities can be fun and meaningful! Make sure to let your team members help choose the activities, and provide support so they see by example that your organization values connection and play as well as work. You can hire an outside firm to come in and host, play a sport together (such as bowling, pool, or laser tag), take a cooking or painting class, or hire an improv company for interactive activities. For cause-related activities, consider hands-on giving to combine team building with helping others, such as making lunches together for a local homeless shelter.

The people of your company are its greatest asset. As you instill a culture that inspires, empowers, and provides opportunities for your team to shine, they will be more engaged and motivated to be their best selves.

Kerry Alison Wekelo has served as managing director of human resources and operations for Actualize Consulting since 2005. She is also a yoga teacher, life coach, award-winning author of children's books, and the founder and visionary of Zendoway, a company that encourages holistic wellness. She is passionate about sharing her discoveries and principles with leaders and helping them face fewer growing pains on their journey toward personal wholeness and professional success.