How to Inspire Your Employees
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a bigger series on supercharging the growth in your business. To start at the beginning click here – Nine Critical Strategies to Grow Your Business in 2020!
In the last article we talked all about documenting your business. I told you about a business’s near death experience… and how documentation could save you from bankruptcy… and how it can help you work less too. Read that article here! We even talked about the best and easiest way to do the documentation – so it’s as painless as possible.
Documenting your business is one thing… getting employees to follow the documentation is something else entirely.
To get the best possible performance from your employees I think leaders need to be inspirational.
No – I’m not talking Tony Robbins style, jumping around and yelling inspiration. I mean a solid leadership role, one that instills confidence and respect… and inspires others to work towards a bigger goal.
Make no mistake about it… You – as the leader of your organization – need to INSPIRE your employees.
It’s not easy.
But today, I’m going to share some ideas on how you can inspire others.
What Drives Inspiration?
In my mind there are 4 things that make leaders inspirational…
- Company Culture
- Employee Support, and
- Employee Freedom
Maybe I’m right… maybe I’m wrong… but as I look at the people who work for me, and I look back at when I was an employee, this is what stands out.
Let’s touch on each one of these quickly.
The worst thing a leader can do is disappear or go dark.
As a leader you need to be seen and heard. And you can’t disappear – especially when times get tough, or there’s a problem.
That’s why communication is so critical.
You need to communicate a number of things to your team… you need to share with them goals and objectives… and how they fit into the bigger picture.
You need to share regular updates of how you’re achieving the goals you’ve set.
And if you decide to, you need to share the financial numbers… if for no other reason to give confidence to your employees the future looks bright.
As a side note, it’s interesting to discuss financial numbers with business owners. I find most people fall into two camps… those that share everything… and those that share nothing.
I’m squarely in the camp of sharing financials with employees.
I share our revenue numbers, our profitability, and do go into some detail about our growth and margins. I think it helps all around with comfort about the business.
And, sometimes I get really good questions from people about the business.
One more note on communication… I know one business who communicates DAILY with their managers via text message. By texting everyone, they are able to send a condensed message and make sure all of their employees see the critical information they need.
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Of course communicating and sharing information lays the groundwork for your company culture.
I know this seems to be a bit of a cleshay, but company culture is important. And as the leader of your organization you’ll go a long way in helping build and establish the culture.
Just realize company culture isn’t about putting in a foosball table in the break room.
Company culture is about how you treat the people you work with… and how they treat each other.
It starts with you at the top and what kind of role you set.
Do you teach, or scream and yell. Do you lead by fear… or are you a team?
One big thing with culture is establishing events for you to celebrate. For example, do you celebrate people’s birthdays? Do you give them the day off… or take everyone out to lunch?
Do you have holiday parties? What about happy hour celebrations? What about conferences and client meetings and dinners?
Setting standards for these types of events sets a tone in the office.
You also set a tone with how you react when things go wrong.
I remember one boss of mine used to throw reports across the room when he was frustrated. He was also notorious for walking into the office on a friday afternoon and dropping a massive project that had to be done by monday.
He destroyed so many weekends it became a sad joke.
That was not a supportive company culture.
I think communication is a great foundation for the company culture… and also setting high standards for your employees is critical. And finally, being able to discuss the vision for the future… and what it means for the organization!
All of these little things add to company culture. And a positive company culture helps drive inspired employees.
But that’s not all, you need to give employees support and freedom. Let’s look at those next.
What do I mean by employee support?
I mean simply giving your employees support in every way possible. That might mean being a sounding board when they’re struggling with a family issue… or having empathy when you are discussing a tough topic… like not making quota.
You also need to give employees support by getting back to them quickly when they have questions.
You need to keep your employees moving forward in their job. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a holding pattern waiting for an answer.
I’ll give you one more bit of feedback on inspiring and supporting your employees… It’s NOT always about money.
Many business owners assume that the only way they can motivate employees is with more and more money.
Don’t get me wrong, more money is always good.
But sometimes there’s a bigger issue.
One of my key employees confessed they’d never leave their job, despite offers of higher compensation… because we gave her the freedom to take their kid to and from school every day.
We didn’t require her to punch a clock and sign in and sign out every day. We didn’t monitor how long she was gone… and track every second.
We trusted her to do the right thing… and she values that “Perk” of the job more than anything else.
Another employee told me she loved her job because she got to see and be involved in other parts of the business.
She wasn’t pigeonholed into one job type… she got to see other parts of the business and work in other areas… which made her job much more enjoyable.
See, supporting your employees isn’t always about money.
And this leads to the last aspect of inspiring your employees…
For me, employee freedom can be focused on one thing – freedom from being micromanaged.
If you need things done in a certain way, say so, and train your employees to do it. But if you have employees working for you, and you need them to think for themselves, the worst thing is trying to micromanage them.
Give your employees the freedom to do their job. Give them a task and a goal… and then let them do their job.
Resist the urge to micromanage.
Another aspect to freedom is getting and giving regular feedback… Having regular structured follow-up blocks of time can be critical to giving good feedback.
Feel free to give feedback, but you need to give it in a structured way. Nobody likes having someone look over their shoulder every day!
I like to give weekly feedback… that works for me, and my organization is small… Sometimes quarterly or semi-annual feedback is important as your organization grows.
Inspiring Employees All Around…
Look, inspiring employees is an art, not a science.
Everyone responds to incentives in different ways. Some are super competitive, others will crumble under competitive situations. Some employees work better with lots of structure… others just need to be given the boundaries and cut loose.
As a leader, you’ll spend your entire career focused on inspiring your employees. It’s a critical part to your business, and one you need to work at.
Take some of these suggestions, and see how they might impact your business.
What’s up next?
Up next is one of the most fun articles ever… Once you make your money, how do you spend it?
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