Originally published September 7, 2016
This is the eighth in a series of Blog posts on Executive Leadership
One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. — Arthur Ashe
Have you taken a look around at the people in your organization lately? Are they excited and energetic or do they seem to be down and out? Are they passionate about what they are doing toward achieving the organization’s goals and vision or do they seem to just be going through the motions? The likely answer is that you have a mix of both kinds of attitudes in the organization. Like most organizations, your employees need a jolt of energy to help them gain [or regain] enthusiasm for their position and the organization—but one that is not fully resting on their shoulders to implement. Quite simply, how do you, as a leader, create a workplace environment in which employees look forward to coming to work and contributing to the mission and vision?
Inspired employees step up and give 100% to their organization, they keep a focus on goals and the vision, and work together to solve problems rather than create them. Seems simple, right? The answer, as you have seen before, is—it matters. It matters based on the organization, mission, vision, resources, people involved, economic stability, etc., etc., and the list goes on. But one thing remains a constant—as a leader, the responsibility for the organization’s environment and achieving the vision rests squarely on your shoulders.
How to Inspire
In today’s economic environment, often times the ability to maintain a stable paycheck is the most important motivation, especially for new employees; however, this will not always be the case. Once the employee is satisfied that their compensation will suffice for their needs (and, to some degree, their wants), money falls down the list of primary motivational factors as well as having less influence on the employee’s overall feeling of fulfillment. The most important factor becomes the need to feel like they make a difference, that they are appreciated, and that they are part of a team working toward meaningful goals. Schaefer (2016) suggests the following seven guidelines so that you too can inspire optimum performance and that they are important in the success of your business:
Start with Yourself. Are you yourself passionate about the mission and goals of your organization? If not, there’s very little chance you will be able to inspire anyone else. You may need to first work on re-energizing your own commitment and enthusiasm about your business; to once again feel like you’re out to change the world.
Share Your Mission Statement with Every Employee. Articulate and share the mission, purpose, and goals of your business with the people who work for you. This will give them a sense of belonging and a connection to the big picture. It is much more exciting to be sharing in a mission as opposed to just accomplishing an unrelated work task. A sense of contribution to the purpose and success of a business makes any job feel more important.
Give Employees Opportunity to Maximize their Talents, Learning and Development. Focus on the strengths and talents of each employee; on developing who they truly are. When someone gets to do what they do best every day, work satisfaction will surely follow. And as the employee grows in the organization, look to continually encourage the development of their strengths with meaningful goals, challenges and advancements. Training and career development opportunities should always be encouraged when possible. This contributes to an employee’s sense of self-actualization and is extremely rewarding.
Give Recognition and Praise. A managing style of instilling fear and negativity stifles productivity. If there is no feedback at all, employees become complacent. In contrast, countless studies have proven that people are far better motivated by the use of positive feedback. Rather than focusing on employees’ weaknesses, focus on their strengths, and praise them whenever praise is deserved.
Recognition of work well done in the form of rewards also goes a long way to keeping employees motivated and giving their all. It can be a non-monetary reward like applauding an employee at a staff meeting for a noteworthy accomplishment or simply writing a thank-you note for an admirable effort. Rewards don’t have to break the bank; a personalized cake or gift certificate can be appreciated just as much as a big bonus.
When mistakes do happen, harsh criticism will only result in an inhibition of motivation and growth. Instead, be subtle with constructive criticism, with the intent of helping your employee to improve job performance. State your confidence in the person’s ability to correct the situation and let them know they are valued.
Encourage Employees’ Opinions and Ideas. Seek out the opinions and ideas of your workers with the goal of implementation; employees will feel truly valued as an integral part of shaping the success and future of your organization. Suggestion boxes, meetings and group discussions are a few ways in which employees can contribute their ideas, but they should be made to feel that their feedback is welcome at any time.
Be a Business to be Proud of. Is the world made better by your service, product or company? People have a strong sense of pride working for a company that has integrity and a good reputation, and is producing something worthwhile or important.
Allow for a Work Environment of Autonomy and Trust. Although employees need to know when and how tasks need to be performed, they cannot work to their full potential when they are being overly micromanaged. This type of management creates an atmosphere of distrust, and eventually leads to workers giving less of themselves, becoming less effective; as a result, creativity and motivation are soon snuffed out.
Giving employees autonomy and trust, with accountability, is far more effective, and allows them to improve in efficiency, quality of work as well as enjoy a real sense of personal accomplishment on-the-job.
When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.
— Patanjali – the author of Yoga Sutra
Next week will be Part eight of the series: Energizing & Empowering Personnel