You spend much of your week at work, not only doing your assigned tasks but engaging with colleagues. In the process, you often confront negativity, disappointment and frustrations. It is important to learn how to motivate peers at work so your workplace can be a productive and collaborative space.
If you can motivate colleagues, you can accomplish more tasks and improve your work environment. You can serve as an example that others can follow and you can help someone in need. You also can stand out to your superiors as a leader worthy of a promotion or pay increase.
More than 47 million workers left their jobs in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Frustration at work and disenchantment with their jobs were top reasons for many. Consider these 10 ways of how to motivate peers at work and use them to inspire those around you.
1. Offer a safe space
There are times when it is best to keep your frustrations to yourself. But often, co-workers just need someone to vent to on the job. Be open to listening and offer them a safe space free of judgement or criticism.
You may not agree with their gripes, but you do not want to diminish how they feel by contradicting them. If you are someone who always sees the positive in things, you do not want to appear indifferent. Acknowledge that you understand their frustration.
One consequence of disagreeing with a colleague about frustrating conditions at work is you may alienate them. You may come across as someone who is indifferent to your co-worker’s frustrations. Let them know you have bad days, too, so they understand you can relate.
2. Lead by example
Your work ethic and good attitude can serve as an example for others to follow. Show them you take pride in your work by focusing on the tasks you need to complete. But do not overdo it by working through breaks or lunches.
Show your co-workers that you work to establish a good balance in your day. Some colleagues become frustrated because they do not take time at work to recharge with a break or a meal. Encourage them to take breaks with you if you notice they do not regularly step away from work.
You should realize that colleagues also watch how you handle criticism and praise. Be respectful and accepting of constructive criticism and grateful for praise you receive. This will encourage your peers to do the same when they receive either criticism or compliments.
Make sure to acknowledge the assistance of others if you receive praise for something. This shows you are willing to share the credit and spread the praise around.
3. Be a team player
Life does not end for workers when they show up on the job. Some may face challenges at home, such as inconsistent childcare or difficulties with a partner. Others may be experiencing emotional or physical challenges that make it hard to focus on work.
Another option for how to motivate peers at work is offering them patience when they face these challenges. If a colleague is taking a number of personal calls, be understanding. If they seem distracted, do not question why they are not focused at work.
Look for ways to be helpful if you see your peers confronting personal difficulties. Perhaps you can help them with a project they have struggled to complete. You could offer to work a shift for them if they need time to deal with personal issues.
You can become the best team player by appreciating the difficulties others face and helping when possible. Your efforts will help motivate colleagues at work and let them know their team supports them.
4. Praise accomplishments publicly
You do not have to wait for supervisors to praise your colleagues. Look for opportunities to point out the good work they do. Share your praise with other colleagues and supervisors who will probably offer their own kudos as well.
Thank your colleagues openly for the help they offer you at work. Tell them how much you enjoyed working with them on a project. By offering praise as a powerful motivator, you will inspire your colleagues and help others appreciate them.
5. Offer constructive criticism privately
There is an often quoted phrase about good bosses: they praise publicly and criticize privately. The same is true if you need to offer a colleague constructive criticism.
When you criticize a colleague openly, this gives the impression that you think you are superior. Other colleagues may resent you for the public declaration of criticism. But more importantly, you risk demoralizing a colleague in front of others.
Take your colleague aside privately and discuss any constructive criticism you may have. Offer them solutions and look for ways to praise other aspects of their work. Make sure your opinion is relevant here and that you do not overstep your authority.
You do not want to create a sense at work that it is appropriate for colleagues to openly criticize each other. This leads to a more negative every-man-for-himself culture in the workplace.
6. Practice positivity
Sometimes, all a colleague needs is to see someone else acting in a positive way. Even in the face of a frustrating situation, if you can stay positive, you will inspire others. This will offer your co-workers an alternative behavior to something they may consider that is more negative.
If you face challenging situations because you work with the public, show colleagues you can diffuse a situation. Keep your cool with customers who are frustrated and your colleagues will learn from this. Talk to your colleagues afterward to share the challenges you overcame by doing so.
When a difficult supervisor is making you frustrated, find a positive way to react. This may diffuse the interaction with your supervisor and inspire them to act differently. Your colleagues will also see the positive reaction you had and mimic it later.
7. Look for ways to socialize
You do not have to be friends with your colleagues at work. But sometimes it is helpful to relate to them away from the office. At the very least, look for opportunities to leave your work area together to socialize during a break.
You interact with your colleagues at work more than most people in your life. You see your co-workers nearly every day, so you should get to know them more. This different type of cordial, if not friendly, relationship will serve to inspire both of you.
Learn what interests they have away from the office. Look for opportunities to talk about subjects other than work that can distract them from office frustrations. Everyone needs a good outlet at work, and this could be a way to help colleagues find one.
Greet your colleagues when you arrive to work each day and when you leave. Small acts of kindness and interest will offer your colleagues a new dynamic at work. They can also motivate your colleagues to work more effectively and find enjoyment at the office.
8. Apologize for mistakes
Perhaps you inadvertently are the source of a colleague’s frustration. You should apologize if your actions frustrate your colleagues. Even if you do not fully agree with their perception, an apology is a good way to neutralize a situation.
You will also serve as an example for your colleagues if they make mistakes. They will be more likely to apologize and resolve a conflict if they saw you apologize. Everyone makes mistakes, so acknowledge yours and show you regret the circumstances.
9. Seeking guidance is how to motivate peers at work
Everyone likes to feel needed, either in their personal or work relationships. Help your peers feel needed by seeking their guidance at work. This will help your colleagues feel worthy and noticed at work.
When they offer advice, make sure you find ways to put it into practice. Let them know that they helped you overcome a challenge with their guidance. Thank them for offering you insights, perhaps even buying them lunch to show your gratitude.
10. Offer hopeful plans
Desmund Tutu, the South African minister and human rights activist, advocated hope. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Offer frustrated colleagues hope as they struggle to overcome difficult times at work.
One way you can offer them hope is by making plans for the future. Perhaps it is a project you can work on together. Maybe it is plans for a special trip you can take together for work. Find something encouraging that they will enjoy doing in the future and help them focus on that.
You can be an inspiration and motivator to your colleagues. Show empathy, encouragement and positivity, and you will know how to motivate peers at work.
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