Tips to Motivate Your Team

The following tips come from previous TAs, staff, reports, and other sources.


  1. Share your vision.

    1. Set clear and measurable goals using the SMART goals template. (diagram with the meaning is viewable at the bottom of the page)

    2. Clearly explain the relevance of your vision and your goals to the team.

  2. Communicate with your team frequently.

    1. Be transparent about processes. How was a decision made? If you do not know something, please ask.

    2. Stay up-to-date on what needs to be done.

    3. Give team members a voice. Listening to their ideas, opinions, and feedback.

    4. Check-in regularly with your team. This can include work, well-being, and more.

    5. Be available for conversations, questions, and providing help.

    6. Say “no” tactfully by including a reason.

  3. Encourage your team.

    1. Get to know your team. What motivates them to work? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What drives them to create great work? Connect with your team.

    2. Encourage teamwork, this makes employees feel less isolated and more engaged. You can do this by holding team-building activities throughout the semester.

    3. Step up when there is a lack of motivation and/or communication.

  4. Give healthy feedback.

    1. Celebrate successes in labs and meetings.

    2. Explain why the task was good and how it helped to benefit the team.

    3. Don’t punish failure.

  5. Provide opportunities for development.

    1. Give team members roles and responsibility. This will add variety to their day.

    2. Encourage creativity; Don’t let your people become bored.

    3. Break out of comfort zones by changing up location and implementing friendly challenges.

    4. Don’t micromanage the work team members are completing.

    5. Give the team a break if they seem collectively stressed.

  6. It is what you make of it. Be a role model, be active and learn with the students.

  7. What to do if you’re still struggling: Reach out to fellow teaching assistants and The Data Mine staff for ideas, help, and support.

What tips would you add?

SMART Goals Diagram

Figure 1. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound Goals