These 4 changemakers have tips on how to motivate your organization in 2024

Big goals and dreams are achieved in bite-sized ways. Here’s how to motivate a team in 2024 and beyond.

How To Set Organizational Goals & Motivate Your Team

It’s a new year and many of us have one thing on our minds: goals. But how do we set meaningful goals for 2024? For leaders guiding organizations with big ideas and big obstacles to solve, the start of a new year often means evaluating how to distill their vision into realistic, achievable goals, and how to inspire the whole organization to push in a shared direction.

Many changemakers in the Stand Together community have experienced this turn-of-season introspection and have advice to offer on not just dreaming big, but dreaming pragmatically. From education to mental health to foster care, their expertise ranges — but all of them are tackling some of society’s most pressing issues, head-on.

Read on for their best insights.

JusticeText founders say: Trust your team

Devshi Mehrotra, founder of JusticeText, may still be a young college student, but she has learned some valuable lessons already. With JusticeText, she has built a tech platform that leverages AI to assist public defenders. 

At first, Mehrotra had the same instinct that many founders have when they start out: the determination to take on all of the organization’s workload herself. Doing so, she thought, would ensure that tasks were carried out to the highest quality. But she soon realized the error in thinking that way. 

“Nothing that I do is honestly all that special,” she says. “After a certain point of endless to-do lists and emails and Zoom calls, I realized that I was becoming the bottleneck for the organization and that I really needed to hire people and trust in people to be able to take us to the next level.” 

When Devshi Mehrotra first founded JusticeText, she wanted to take full control of tasks. She soon realized total control was harming more than helping.

Delegation isn’t avoiding responsibility. It’s strengthening your organization. Insistence on self-reliance can stifle the growth of your organization. Instead, recognize the unique skills and talents of your staff and allow your employees to unleash great things.

Bloom Academy founders say: Listen to your critics

When Sarah Tavernetti and Yamila De Leon, the co-founders of Bloom Academy, started out, they had their fair share of naysayers and doubters. Both former public school teachers became frustrated by a system that forced them to box in their teaching methods. Together, they started Bloom Academy to offer student-directed learning options and improve outcomes for their learners. 

But rather than write their critics off, they tried something different: taking what they said seriously. 

“When we’re confronted with people who challenge what we’re doing, we embrace those conversations, to be honest,” says Tavernetti.

Sarah Tavernetti and Yamila De Leon are no strangers to people critiquing their work. But instead of ignoring them, they choose to listen.

That isn’t to say that doing so is easy. As De Leon points out, engaging productively and openly with detractors “takes time, and patience, and love, and kindness, and empathy to really hear them out.”

Encourage each employee to take advantage of opportunities to embrace critics in their work and welcome the benefits it can bring. If everyone takes time to consider how someone challenging their point of view can be helpful to them, the perspectives of many individuals can broaden — and make your organization’s trajectory as a whole even more welcoming to a wider audience.

Confess Project founder says: Embrace the setbacks

Lorenzo P. Lewis, founder of The Confess Project, learned the hard way that setbacks can bring lessons. A barber himself, he started the Project to rally together his local barber community to create solutions for mental health challenges among local Black men. 

When Lewis and The Confess Project lost their vice board chair, who had been with the organization since its inception, they were left without a succession plan.

“It really left our team in shambles,” Lewis remembers.

When The Confess Project was faced with an unexpected loss, they seemed to be at a standstill. But Lorenzo P. Lewis found a way to turn it into an opportunity.

But he and his team were able to use the tragedy to expand, not stall. They created a new board chair position and growth plan, ensuring The Confess Project could see its work go on for years to come.

“One of my pieces of advice for social entrepreneurs when overcoming a tragedy or a hard time is to create a crisis plan,” Lewis says. “Crisis and tragedy, we can all expect them. It is inevitable, it will happen. Use it to change and to become better and to become stronger. Use it as an opportunity to pivot. That’s really going to help elevate you and your organization to the next level.”

Scott Barry Kaufman says: Celebrate the unique talents of each employee

Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman believes that with the right mindset, nonprofit leaders can see their work as less of a job and more of a calling. The key, he says, is to focus on helping your employees recognize their unique strengths.

Scott Barry Kaufman is a cognitive psychologist who applies his research to the workplace. He believes employers can help employees reach higher fulfillment.

“If we can really focus on our own growth and development and try to become the best ‘us,’ that’s the self-actualization journey,” Kaufman says. “As a leader, inspiring self-actualization from others is super important, and I think it’s often overlooked.”

Try to prioritize helping your employees not only connect to your long-term vision, but also to identify how their unique gifts, talents, and passions, can help you get there. 

As 2024 begins, share these words of advice with your team to encourage them to start the new year with growth in mind.