Why Numbers Will Always Be Your Staff’s Greatest Motivational Tool

We’ve all seen it—the inspirational movie speech. You can catch it in the waning seconds of a football game, or right before a squadron charges into battle. Insert a bit about never giving up, maybe a blurb about overcoming the competition, and boom, you’ve got yourself a game-winning formula.

Given that it always works on screen, the inspirational movie speech should translate well into your work environment, right? Not so fast. As you know, or at least you should know, real life is not the same as the movies. And while motivation is key to a productive workplace, there’s one thing that will always supersede even the most stirring speech—numbers.

For all of the improvements that have been made in the modern workplace with the goal of making our teams more efficient—changing office spaces, modifying hours, improving the work-life balance, for example—what hasn’t changed is the fact that the facts themselves, in the form of numbers and data, are far and away the most effective motivational tool.

Now, just throwing numbers around willy-nilly likely won’t do any good. The trick is to find ways to use performance-based data in a way that inspires confidence and motivation among your employees.

Here are a few specific ways in which you can use your team’s numbers to effectively boost their production and level of enthusiasm.

Numbers Don’t Lie

The old standby—numbers just don’t lie. The numbers, data and key performance indicators (KPIs) that your team is producing are the most accurate representation of what they, as a group, and as individuals, are achieving. Using and displaying real data holds team members accountable, shows where improvements can be made, and can push each individual to achieve more.

As a business owner, you should have your numbers and stats displayed in such a way that they are present at all times during the business day. They shouldn’t be looming over your team like a storm cloud, but they should be available as a point of reference at any point.

For an effective and interesting way to have your team’s numbers present in the office, check out Cyfe, which bills itself as an “all-in-one online business dashboard” solution. In addition to providing a comprehensive collection of analytics via customizable prefab widgets for dozens of platforms, Cyfe’s visualizations can even be displayed in your office in layouts optimized for TV screens. This way, your team’s numbers will be present, accessible and engaging without being intimidating and distracting.

Numbers Give a Sense of Ownership

Holding each team member accountable isn’t a form of punishment or a way to shame less productive members into working harder. Rather, it’s a way to give each team member a sense of ownership in the work they’re putting forth. By seeing their contribution, they gain a knowledge of the power they have in propelling the business to ever greater levels of success.

It is for this reason that companies from The Cheesecake Factory to Aflac are now offering employees stock options that allow team members to have a genuine stake in their businesses. When your employees feel as though they have a real and important place in the success of the business, they’ll perform better. While “equity compensation” is more of a norm in the tech industry—see below for statistics on the stock option expectations of software coders coming out of college—it’s also becoming more popular in other verticals.

Platforms like Capshare are extremely useful for HR departments, finance executives and entrepreneurs who want to track the true value of the stock options they offer employees. The reports offered here help with legal compliance needs, onboarding new employees and long-term planning for the implications of new investment rounds.

Numbers Can Become Incentives

This may seem a bit obvious, but it bears mentioning. Just as displaying numbers fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, they can also be used to set goals. You can use numbers to set both team and individual goals, thereby spurring your team to higher levels of production and success.

If the team reaches a certain number of sales, for example, each team member receives a bonus of some sort. If an individual reaches a certain milestone, or outperforms other members of the team, that individual can be rewarded. Your numbers give your employees something to work towards.

There are even leaderboard platforms like Hoopla that help motivate sales floors at call centers by gamifying the competition. Performance-based incentives have to be structured correctly to work, but when done right, they can be a useful tool for improving production.

Rally the Troops

In the end, your rousing battle cry or heartfelt message may provide a momentary boost, but nothing will motivate your team better than giving them access to the numbers and statistics that indicate their level of performance and their resulting potential for rewards.

Numbers can drive them to become better, more accountable, more unified and more effective than ever before.

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