If there is one thing that you can do to ensure that your leadership produces results it is to inspire your employees to achieve beyond what they may have thought possible and then to motivate them to do this day in and day out. This is very doable even if your vision is not-so-perfectly written or, if after you have explained the vision, you still have a few skeptical employees,
When you inspire people to follow you and achieve something greater than they could have achieved on their own you are unleashing one of the most powerful forces within humankind. This inspiration is not generated by over the top speeches or hyperbolic rallies. Those may be part of organizational life but their impact is largely overstated. Inspiration comes from tapping into your employees unmet needs.
Every one who works for you will positively respond to what you are asking of them if you motivate them by sticking to these universal principles of motivation:
People want to be challenged
Challenging work keeps employees engaged and interested in what they are doing. (As long as the work is not impossibly challenging.) It is one thing to ask an employee to puzzle through a thorny problem, it is another to expect them to overcome organizational obstacles that are out of their control and that have previously been insurmountable.
Ask employees to try to problem-solve instead of relying on you for answers. If previously they have come to you seeking a solution to a problem, instead ask that they come to you with ideas for solutions. It will help engage them on a deeper level. It’s also a great way to develop their skills.
People want to know that their work has meaning or importance
If you were able to engage your staff with a compelling vision then the importance of their work should be more evident. Meaningful work is tied to an individual’s core values, beliefs and sense of purpose. During the alignment phase of leadership this is when the connection between what you want and what they will get in return is explained.
Meaningful work drives commitment, retention, and discretionary effort. This supersedes other factors thought to contribute to employee engagement. To be meaningful the work your employers do must make sense. It’s important that employees understand what they’re being asked to do. Meaningful work must also have a point.
People want recognition for what they do and also want their good work to be rewarded
The critical positive impact (both financial and non-financial) of recognition is well described in this example. The Walt Disney World Resort established an employee recognition program that resulted in a 15% increase in staff satisfaction by implementing day-to-day recognition by their immediate supervisors. These results correlated highly with resulting higher guest-satisfaction scores, which directly flowed to increased profitability.
The process of recognition is not difficult: observe performance, give the feedback and praise and then state the impact of what the employee did on the department and organization.
The power of rewarding employees is well-documented. There are myriad rewards available to you as a leader, some monetary, some not. As you choose which rewards work best with your employees consider these three factors:
The employees personality – don’t publicly recognize employees who are more introverted or shy. Do publicly praise employees who are more extraverted and outgoing.
The reward should not accidentally punish – for example, giving someone extra time off when in fact they live for work and use work as an escape from their life.
Don’t default to pay raises or bonuses – you will never meet someone who says they don’t want more money. Don’t be deceived by this statement. There is a time and place for well-designed merit increases or bonuses. However intrinsic rewards are much more powerful as a sustaining force.
People want to grow their portfolio of skills and want to see a connection between the work that they do and what it would do to further their careers.
Set employee’s learning and development goals. Making employees responsible for their own career development can motivate them to push themselves that little bit further. However, if you want staff to grow in their roles, you’ll need to provide them with opportunities to let them put their new skills into action with promotions or the creation of new roles. Career and skill growth though does not just need to involve change of role or promotions. The Center for Creative Leadership has an excellent booklet called “Eighty-eight Assignments for Development in Place.” This booklet lays out in a very organized fashion what assignments provide growth in their current position organized by which aspects of their development you wish to build.
People want to be treated fairly.
This may seem self-evident however it is a far too common gripe. Fairness does not mean equality. As a leader answer these two questions for your employees:
Why is the work distributed the way it is?
How will what I am being asked to do beneficial for my growth and well-being?
Employees want to know the whys of work assignment distribution. They also want to know what is being done to deal with any colleagues who appear to not be pulling their weight. As a leader many times I have quelled an employee’s concerns about a slacker coworker when I have told them that I am aware of the situation and that I am doing something about it. They don’t want to know the specifics of what i am doing, just that I am doing something.
Practicing these motivational principles on a consistent and regular basis will create the results needed to achieve your vision, and sooner that you might have imagined!