It goes without saying: Individuals and teams who are inspired achieve better results!
I’ve got a great team, and everyone works their tails off. I find them online many nights and weekends, doing whatever it takes to finish the current assignment or make progress on an important task. I think their motivation comes from three sources.
First, we are an employee-owned firm, and everyone has a vested interest in the results we create. Second, each person has a really strong personal work ethic. And third, they are inspired, both individually and as a team, to do their best.
I won’t address the first two areas of motivation, because frankly I have no ability to impact them. They are what they are, whether I am leading the team or somebody else is.
But the third aspect, inspiration, is something that I can have a significant and positive affect on. The definition of inspire is “to make someone want to do something; to give someone an idea about what to do or create.” There are many ways to inspire people to achieve great results. Here are some of the things I do.
Provide a vision – This is a typical area to focus on. We’re told from an early stage in our careers that leaders create and communicate a vision. We have all experienced this from our mentors and great executives that we encounter through the years.
Your vision for a team doesn’t need to be a complicated, all-encompassing paragraph of things to do. A simple
statement or sentence is best, but make it relevant and impactful. And use it periodically to remind team members
by saying, “Remember, this is what we’re trying to accomplish.” That will reinforce your vision, and connect it to
Roll up your sleeves and work – This is something I recently discovered as a great motivator. I typically do a lot of managing, reviewing, and coaching with my direct team and senior business unit staff. But many weeks tend to be short on what some would call “actual work.” On several recent occasions there was no other way to finish or fix a project than for me to clear my schedule, jump in with the team, and get my hands dirty. During these times I not only “do,” but also direct and delegate. This is hands-on leadership.
In retrospect it seems so logical. What better way to inspire others than working with them side-by-side, and
demonstrating that you really know how to do the work. I’m talking about long days, maybe a quick meal to unwind, and probably continuing through a late night or weekend stretch. I heard one of my colleagues talk about another person recently, saying “I’d follow him into battle any day.” That’s inspiration!
Promote them internally – When interacting with my boss and other senior managers, I talk about the great
things my team members do for our firm. There’s never a question that I believe I have the best team in the industry.
That viewpoint is infectious, and other managers have come to believe it too. We’re a large company with a small feel; people talk. So there’s a trickle down effect when I promote my team. They eventually hear about it through others, and understand how much respect I have for them and the job they do. Do you think that helps inspire them?
Spend time with people – I often visit our headquarters location where most of my team is based. While I’m there, I try to sit with them, not in an office on another floor. We work on projects together. We have a team
meeting to discuss challenges, progress, and lessons learned. And yes, we find time to socialize.
When I’m working from my home office, I stay in contact as much as possible. I’m online and accessible
by e-mail, phone, or text. I use instant messaging for quick connections. When a project is wrapped up, I
frequently call people to get a quick debrief and their perspective on how things went. Showing that you care
helps inspire others.
While you’re doing these things, remember to be a good communicator— honest and authentic. Try not to dwell
on the problems and things that are “wrong.” Be optimistic about the future and the great results you will produce
working together. Positive energy will inspire.
Now it's your turn: How do you inspire your teams?
About the Author: Wally Hise is vice president of federal marketing for HDR Engineering, Inc. (Omaha,NE).
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