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We have a Small Team: How do I motivate my staff to overperform

The obvious problem with having a small team is that there's nowhere for staff who aren't performing to hide: Before you worry about helping people to overperform, think about whether they are capable of performing. In other words, have you got the right people with the right experience and skills in the right roles for the company and its development?

Once you know you’ve covered this base (and see Martin’s answer on how to recruit the right people) you can start worrying about how to get more out of your staff.

A common misconception is that money is the best motivator. Money is important, but for most staff, particularly in young companies, it’s not the primary consideration. Staff in start-ups are more likely to respond to a feeling of achievement, and of involvement: giving target-related bonuses, share options, or straight shareholdings are all good ways of making key staff feel involved, and of tying their financial advantage to the progress of the company.  It’s possible to reward groups as well as individuals, which is a great way of building group cohesion; but group rewards need to be carefully designed to recognise everyone’s achievements, or they can do more harm than good.  

Most of all though, people want to feel engaged and useful. Spending time to involve your staff in decisions, communicating clearly and sharing your vision for the company, as well as being empathetic and flexible in helping staff to achieve a workable balance between their professional and family lives will all help you to persuade people to go the extra mile, and enjoy doing it.  

Steve Wood Gatwick Diamond Enterprise Hub

Contact: Ally Charles


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