By: Srikumar Rao
It doesn’t matter whether you are running a company, a division or a department. If the people who report to you and whose performance you manage are dispirited and employee motivation is low, enployee performance will be poor and you will get the blame. And here is the bad news: Employee disengagement is at an all time high. The number of people who do not like what they do and would rather be elsewhere and preferably on vacation is legion.
The good news is that it does not have to be so. You can make a difference. Here are ten tips to inspire your employees who determine your ultimate success:
1) Understand that leadership is a privilege. Too many bad bosses look on employee problems as an unwelcome intrusion on their time. They unconsciously wonder why the employee can’t “fix” the problem on their own. Instead, treat each such interaction as an opportunity to forge a deeper connection with that employee and revisit the values you want them to hold to and display.
2) Recognize that your reports are human. They are individual human beings who are driven by fundamental human urges. They also want to be happy and free from suffering. While you have to ensure that organizational goals are met, do so in the context of each person’s personal learning and growth. It’s your challenge to foster this — it’s also where you should be spending a good chunk of your time.
3) Be authentic. Don’t use techniques. Countless methods espouse giving employees a pat on the back to make them feel good and encourage them to work harder. Perhaps. But disengenuous praise is at some level manipulative and neither of you will feel good about this. Generate employee loyalty by offering praise because it is a genuine expression of how you feel — doing so will help magnify the results many times over.
4) Work on yourself first — and constantly. You can’t teach someone to play better chess unless you are a darn good player yourself. If you want to inspire others you have to have found your own calling. Your goal is to get to the point where you no longer “try” to inspire others. You are vibrating at such a high frequency of self-assuredness that others are inspired simply by being around you.
5) Consciously try, on every occasion and in every interaction, to raise the level of your employees’ consciousness — both individually and collectively. Hold up a vision of what they are capable of doing and becoming and what, as a result of their efforts, the company can become. Do it often enough that it becomes a collective vision, not yours alone.
6) Make sure employees can see first hand the value of what they are doing and the impact it has. The CEO of a hotel chain makes it a practice to invite guests who send in strong testimonials to visit again at their expense and meet the housekeeping staff. The manufacturer of a medical equipment company records grateful statements from patients whose lives have been saved by their devices and shares these video presentations at internal company meetings. Use your creativity to come up with your own methodology; be sure that your method demonstrates the very real value and impact of your employees’ contributions.
7) Ask, ask, ask!! I bet you have never done this. Ask each employee who reports to you what is one thing you can do to make their life easier. If at all possible, do it. If not, explain why you cannot and ask for another thing. Do this sincerely and see what a transformative effect this one action can have. Repeat in six months.
8) Promote creativity. Procedures have their place in a bureaucracy but they also keep stultify creative impulses. Examine policies that have become entrenched and ask what would happen if you abolished them. Encourage your employees to suggest what should be eliminated and what should be modified. If this is a sincere effort, energy will flow and engagement will rise.
9) Encourage participation. Few things energize an employee more than by inviting participation, creating a sense that they genuinely have a say in the conditions of a workplace. Democracy is not only a viable form of political organizing, it is also a great way to make companies thrive. Go to WorldBlu to learn how democracy can unleash creativity and innovation. Even better, apply for WorldBlu certification and see how you do. If you don’t make it, learn what you have to fix so you succeed the next time around.
10) Actively work to bring happiness to your place of work. Browse the site of my good friend Alexander Kjerulf for many tips on how to do this, including these suggestions:
- Higher productivity – happy people achieve better results
- Higher quality – because happy employees care about quality
- Lower absenteeism – people actually want to go to work
- Less stress and burnout – happy people are less susceptible to stress
- Attract and retain the best people – people want to work for you
- Higher sales – happy people are the best salespeople
- Higher customer satisfaction – happy employees are the best basis for good service
- More creativity and innovation – happy people are more creative
- More adaptive – happy people are much more adaptive and open to change
- Better stock performance – for all of the above reasons
- Higher profits – for all of the above reasons
Srikumar S. Rao is the author of Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful — No Matter What (Published by McGraw-Hill). He conceived “Creativity and Personal Mastery,” the pioneering course that was among the most popular and highest rated at many of the world’s top business schools. It remains the only such course to have its own alumni association.