During these difficult economic times, keeping your employees motivated is one of the keys to maintaining a successful business. If a consumer walks in to your store and sees a bunch of people moping around she may get the impression things are so bad this business may be closing soon. She will most likely not want to buy anything as a result.
In a recently concluded four-year study of over 200,000 responses describing 20,000 leaders, the researchers— Jack Zenger, Joe Folkman and Scott Edinger—found those who possessed the ability to inspire and motivate employees outperformed all others.
The report found that the ability to inspire is not only the quality most valued by employees, it is the factor most correlated with employee commit- ment and satisfaction. And, the impact of inspiring and motivating others is consistent across different kinds of organizations and within different cultures.
As an owner or manager, keeping a positive attitude is one thing, but it takes more than a smile to keep your team in the right frame of mind. While it is easy to say you to need to motivate, truth is, most people are not great at it.
So what are the most common traits that make a person a great motivator?
In their book, “The Inspiring Leader: Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate,” they noted inspiration is not sufficient in and of itself. In other words, just saying “rah rah” and patting people on the back will not get the job done—it must be used in combination with other leadership attributes.
To that end, they go through a litany of techniques owners and managers should take into account if they want to become a more inspiring leader. Below are some of them, along with a brief explanation as to why:
- Showing energy and enthusiasm is necessary, but you need to seriously reach out to people. Use other emotions to interact with employees. Initiate conversations, be con- structive and be attuned to their emotions.
- Work on targets. Work with the entire team as well as with each individual employee to set aggressive targets that will challenge them. But make sure they are obtainable, otherwise there will be no motivation to reach them.
- Point to the future. When working on targets, make sure to give your vision of the business three years from now and get each person to identify how this affects their job. Then, align systems and initiatives around the vision.
- Do not be a control freak. Controlling information is not inspiring. Take the time to be inclusive by being diligent in making sure your staff is kept up-to-date on things that are affecting the business.
- Delegate. Another aspect of not being a control freak. Work with people by giving them tasks that will help them develop their skills. And make sure to let them know how confident you are in them.
- Delegate some more. Involve more people in decision making on every important issue. Seeking the opinion of others communicates that what they are doing is important and it conveys respect and appreciation and strengthens the bond with the leader.
- Be a coach, teacher, mentor. Schedule regular sessions with each person. Make your- self available.
- Encourage ideas. Don’t be a “no” person whenever an employee brings up an idea for doing something different. It stifles creativity and innovation.
- Allowing employees to con- tribute to the betterment of the business gives them a feeling of ownership and they will work harder to make that idea succeed.
- Take the initiative. Nothing says leader like taking the first step and setting the example. Demonstrate with your actions what is valued by the organization and that includes not being afraid to initiate changes that will help improve the business.
The 272 page, “The Inspiring Leader,” is actually a follow up to Zenger’s and Folkman’s bestselling “The Extraordinary Leader,” and is available online and in book- stores.