7 Tips to Motivate Your Team

by Cathleen Jacinto, SE, PE

How can an engineering office ensure it is a place where its employees love what they do?

Those who have chosen to be structural engineers, as with many other professions, are inspired. They persevere through academia and licensure examinations for a reason. Many times, they have a passion to contribute to the built environment.

Do your engineers currently still feel the same amount of inspiration and perseverance that they did when they first began their careers? Are they still doing the work they love? If not, when did you notice a shift? The Ted talk discussed in last month’s newsletter titled “How to Find Work You Love” by Scott Dinsmore was a great reminder to check in and ask these questions. If the answer to any of the above questions was no, how can we cultivate the inspiration and motivation that was likely inherent in many of us at the beginning of our careers?

Below are a few potential ideas to ‘jumpstart’ motivation and positive morale in an engineering office. While some may require a financial investment, some are very simple to implement without any cost.

  1. “Which projects do you want to work on?” Believe it or not, many engineers are not asked this question. Remember that we do what we do because we are inspired. Listen to what inspires your team members, and you may be surprised by how well they do in what they love to do.
  2. Does each employee have adequate resources to do their job? If you hold an engineer accountable for a role, do they have the means and appropriate authority to execute? For example, if they are expected to manage a project, do they participate in staffing and budget decisions as needed to fulfill their role?
  3. Regular team meetings: Clear communication regarding workload, tasks, and timelines should be transparent within a team. Effective weekly meetings are a great platform to confirm project delivery and to foster input from team members in making sound decisions.
  4.  Complete execution of employee annual reviews: An honest conversation between an employer and employee, and follow-through on the talking points are essential. It is best to be in constant open communication throughout the year, but with busy schedules or different personality traits, this may not always occur. The annual review is the set time when employees and employers speak openly and constructively. Both parties taking action on agreed plans is equally as important in developing a clear career path.
  5. Celebrate as goals are achieved: Recognition and the power of ‘thank you’ is highly motivating and creates mutual respect within a team. Timing is also key. It should be a priority to show appreciation to team members immediately after a deadline where individuals have gone above and beyond.
  6.  Mentor programs: Mentoring is an effective way to switch interpersonal relationships from possibly non-communicative to teaching and fostering. One way this can be done is to pair a senior engineer with a younger engineer where they are able to meet for work lunches. Is there an engineer who has inspired you? Do you seek to be that person for another?
  7. Offer opportunities for additional learning: Provide a variety of ways for staff to continually learn as a structural engineer, even if the learning is in areas outside of your typical project types. This can lead to a boost in morale as engineers know that their companies are investing in them. There are a wide variety of learning opportunities readily available to structural engineers.

We hope that the ideas presented above provide some ways to motivate your team, and make a difference in your office.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”- Robert Louis Stevenson

We would love to hear of ways your office has been able to make positive strides!

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