I feel I am a very motivated and proactive person. I don't need too much of a push to get things done.

My colleagues in my team are very different and I don't feel they're proactive or try to produce exceptional work. They're all very capable and it would be good if we all pushed each other to raise standards.

Their line manager isn't really interested in managing them and so isn't doing anything to get the best out of them. He is also unaware of work loads and doesn't monitor deadlines. Team members have told me that they get away without not doing much.

What can i do do to get the best out of my colleagues in this situation, especially considering I don't manage any of them?

I don't feel this is a duplicate of the linked question as i'm trying to get more out of my colleagues from my non management position as I feel the manager is not doing their job. I'm not trying to bring their lack of output to the attention of management.

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    Why do you care? There may be ways to do this but it's going to take an enormous amount of time and effort (which you'll have trouble justifying to your manager) and even it works it's unlikely to be visible to or noticed by your management. And keep in mind that for the most part, coworkers are terrible at judging whether others' output is up to management's standards because they simply don't have the full picture.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 31, 2016 at 13:22
  • Do you have any reason to believe they WANT to be motivated?
    – Erik
    Aug 31, 2016 at 13:25
  • 2
  • 1
    OP, I think you'll enjoy reading this. ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/…
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 31, 2016 at 21:02
  • 2
    Not a duplicate. That question is ratting out lazy and/or incompetent coworkers after all attempts have been made to motivate them. This question is trying to inquire as to getting the best out of them.
    – Chris E
    Aug 31, 2016 at 21:03

4 Answers 4


Yes, you can do something to improve the situation. It's called leadership without rank. You don't need to be a manager to positively influence the people around you.

First, find out why motivation is low in your team. Was is always like that? If not, what has changed? Is the work dull, or too hard? Are your colleagues challenged? Do they believe their work is meaningful? Are they provided what they need to do good work?

Generally, people want to perform because it makes them feel better. They don't need incentives if the work environment allows them to be successful and have fun. You cannot "motivate" people by threatening to fire them and you cannot "fix" people. In any role though, you can help to improve the work environment so it's more motivating. If anything is missing to do the work properly, it's frustrating. Try to fix that by requesting stuff that does work properly.

You can find out which kind of work your colleagues love or despise. Someone hates crunching numbers, another one loves it. One coworker is really good at creating documentation, another one hates it. Of course it depends on the area you work in, but you will find this basically anywhere. Offer help, or ask the presentation lover to do the presentation for the hater.

Talk with them, listen. What bothers them? Lack of motivation and poor performance can come from personal issues, stress at home, pressure somewhere else. Talking to someone who cares already helps, and maybe you can actually offer advice. At least, you might get a better understanding why someone performs poorly.

You could be more efficient with more power, but do what you can with the little you have. It's also good practice for you if you aspire a leadership role. Leading without title is a challenge, but a title will not help you if you cannot lead. Sure, you can force people to do specific things, but that never leads to excellent performance. It's best if people respect you and know you really care for them (don't fake it, they'll know), then you can ask them to do things and they will follow.

I wish you success.


What can i do do to get the best out of my colleagues in this situation, especially considering I don't manage any of them?

You really can't. It's not your role to "get the best out of [your] colleagues".

That said, you can lead by example.

Stay very motivated and proactive. Continue to get things done without requiring a push. Maybe some of that will rub off on others. Or maybe when you are rewarded for your efforts others will start to take notice and change their behavior.

And next time a management position opens, go for it. Then you can motivate your team more directly, and perhaps be in a position to change the culture around you. It then becomes your role to get the best out of your team, and to be judged on their results.

  • To wait for a specific role to act as a leader is a bad idea. It's much more helpful for everybody involved to first show that you have what it needs for a leadership role, and then assume it. Although, in this company, they don't seem to reward good work.
    – daraos
    Sep 2, 2016 at 21:10

There are only two ways to motivate the team;

  1. Stay motivated and proactive yourself. In your current position you can't dictate anything, so you need to lead by example only.
  2. Become the manager. Then you can track, motivate and fire as you see fit.

I strongly recommend the first option initially.


Summon the hounds!

I'm kidding, obviously. Sometimes, even managers can't come up with incentives at all, especially in a company culture that tends to demotivate the workers. You could give out gifts, and sing kum-bye-yah by the fireside, but some people only respond under threat to their livelihood. You sound like an achiever in a group of low performers. If there is no higher company standard for performance, then you may be wasting your breath on the lay-people and might be more effective in showing management (including those above your boss) where the payoff is.

In the meantime, don't let this totally frustrate you. Make sure you're encountering successes - in whatever form you prefer - outside of work. That way, it won't sting as much.

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