As the year comes to a close, I wanted to focus on a positive workplace topic (dare I say inspiring topic!), as well as offer some tips to help companies and their employees be happier and more productive in the New Year.
All decent managers want to be good leaders and make their teams the best they can be. But what can managers do to go beyond just managing a team day-to-day to actually inspiring their employees to achieve their very best?
There are a myriad of articles on inspirational leadership and recommendations on what will bring out the best in employees. I picked out the tips and techniques that kept recurring again and again, as well as those that offered the best reasons why they inspire workers to go above and beyond. I have highlighted them for you here:
This is often an uncomfortable task for managers. It requires giving up control and trusting that your team will make the right decisions and come through for you. But allowing employees the freedom to use their own ideas and guide their work gives them a sense of ownership that motivates and inspires them to reach higher and perform more productively. No one likes to be micro-managed, so loosen those apron strings and see what your team can do. They will appreciate you for it and will most likely surprise you with ideas you hadn’t even thought of.
Encouraging employees to communicate their opinions, and creating safe environments for them to do so, makes employees feel valued and feel they are truly contributing to the organization. However, not all managers are good with open communication and may think they are being transparent when others do not see it.
A great way to make sure you are regularly communicating with your employees is to schedule it. This may not be the most spontaneous way to communicate, but more importantly time won’t pass with no communication - leaving employees in the dark and thinking the worst. Schedule company meetings monthly or quarterly to cover sales and other important goals and issues. Schedule one-on-one meetings or luncheons at least monthly with each team member, to give those that aren’t comfortable discussing matters in public a safe space to communicate.
Instead of immediately assuming that employees need more money/benefits/bigger office/etc. to be motivated, consider the inspirational power of intrinsic rewards – like a sense of meaning, a sense of competence and a sense of progress. All workers want to feel that they are contributing to something meaningful, are good at what they do and want to see progress toward their goals. Companies and managers that can build a culture that ties everyone’s work to the core company values and provide resources and training to support each employee’s success will outdo their competition by leaps and bounds. An employee with a purpose and a means to get there will be much more productive and motivated than one that is kept in the dark and micro-managed. Managers can work to align their teams with the company’s purpose by answering the questions: “Why does our company exist? Who does our business serve? What problems are we solving?” This will give your team clear direction, and then managers only need to support workers with training and resources to help them make progress.
Once you give an employee a purpose to work toward, you need to support them with proper training and incentives for continuing to learn and grow with the company. If an employee does not have a clear pathway of where they will fit into a company in the future, it will be easy for them to get discouraged and feel they are in a dead-end job. If there is not an obvious next position they can promote into after mastering certain skills, consider ways they can cross-train and learn new skills to expand or change their current position and responsibilities.
Finally, one of the most repeated tips to inspire and motivate employees is frequent and consistent recognition. Recognition and praise fulfill a worker’s basic needs of esteem and belonging within a group. In a WorkHuman Research Institute Report, 79% of respondents said recognition and rewards makes them work harder. Not all recognition needs to be part of a formal HR program, simply publically highlighting a job well done shows your employees that you see what they are doing and care about them. Rewarding your team with lunch to celebrate the completion of a tough project, or presenting a rotating trophy to the “employee of the week” in your morning stand-up are great informal ways to show you appreciate all of their hard work.
Managing others in the workplace is difficult for a number of reasons, but those managers that can achieve true “inspirational leadership status” can take their teams to new heights. Managers that carve out time and attention to mastering the techniques above will be rewarded with teams eager to come to work and employees giving their very best to the projects that come their way.
Best wishes for the coming year!
By Ann Condon - Communication Manager, E.A. Dion, Inc.