An overlooked responsibility of the modern day sports field manager is the skill of motivation: The ability to inspire and get the most out of one’s staff. Think of motivation as “the general desire or willingness to do something.”

Let’s compare a field manager to a head coach in football. How about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick? Although not everyone’s favorite, even Belichick’s harshest critics have to admit he’s a heck of a leader who gets the most out of his players. He knows how to motivate.

He has a somewhat unique ability to take players who aren’t exactly household names, and put in them into positions to not only help the team, but also succeed to individual levels they never reached before playing for him.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that at your field, or fields, with your staff?

We hire and train new crew members. We show them the right way to do things, as well as tell them what we expect. And, after some time, we determine their qualities as an employee. We make decisions about how we can use them to best help the operation. We find strengths not only in their maintenance abilities, and how they pick up on things, but also in their attitudes, judgments and dedication to the maintenance of the fields. We file all this away, and use each employee the best we can. That’s called managing.

But is this enough? Along with these judgments we’re making, are we doing our best to motivate them? To motivate them to be better and more useful employees to us? If we aren’t inspiring them and helping them grow, are we not hurting ourselves, as well as shortchanging them?

We need to not only train and judge, but we also need to motivate. This is true with new employees and with the long-termers as well. In fact, the more senior a crew member, the more motivation may be required.

But how do we motivate? Do we have motivational meetings after our monthly safety meeting? Do we hang framed inspirational quotes in the break room?

No, I think motivation is subtler than this. I’m sure Belichick doesn’t have a weekly meeting with his players telling them, “OK, now I’m going to motivate you.”

Here are five things that may keep your employees inspired and giving you the best they can:

  1. Money: Naturally. Money is the rabbit we’re all chasing after. Pay your employees not only a competitive wage, but slightly more than a competitive wage. And always up this annually.
  2. Team spirit: People love to be a part of something. Make them feel like they are. Folks don’t like to let others down. Let them know they’re an important cog in the machine.
  3. Deadlines: This may not seem motivational, but most people tend to love structure, even if they’re not really aware of it. Giving someone a time frame (with a positive spin on it) to complete a job will make them more motivated to get that job done on time.
  4. Lead by example: Get out there and work side by side with your crew from time to time. Show them how motivated you are to provide a safe, playable and great looking field. And try and put new workers alongside dedicated and hardworking older employees whenever you can.
  5. Kindness: Respect goes a long way. Get people on your side and they’ll do a heck of a lot more for you than if they don’t like you. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.

So remember, hire well, train well and make your judgments. But don’t stop there! Motivation is the next step.

And that step is up to you. Are you motivated?