Seven Questions to Stimulate Motivation
by James Sale
James Sale is a Europe’s leading expert on the power of motivation, and has exclusively contributed to the Engage Executive Jobs blog.
The issue of motivating staff will not go away; in fact, with the rise of technology and the increasing levels of distance and impersonality, the how-to-manage-them question gets larger and larger. In such a context Motivational Maps are essential since they do supply on-line so much of the information that an effective manager or leader needs. But in the absence of the Maps, what should managers do? Here are 7 questions to get you thinking about next steps.
One, think about the quality of your leadership. How good is it? What you do speaks much louder than what you say! At its simplest level, do you walk the talk, or are you an armchair critic locked away in ‘important’ meetings the ‘plebs’ can never understand? If you want to improve your leadership skills, get feedback – quality feedback from those who experience your leadership, from those working alongside you, and from those who lead you. What do they say – what points of improvement are there for you to pursue?
Second, have you set achievable targets? You know the formula: SMART, but do you use it? I have been a trainer and consultant in hundreds of businesses and I am always staggered by the sheer number of managers who do not seem to understand what a Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Relevant and Time-trackable target is. So much target-setting is wishful thinking.
Third, does training figure strongly in your company? As the say in the USA, want to earn more? Then learn more! One cannot stress enough the importance of ongoing learning, development and training. Even if your organisation does not invest in you, you are well advised, as Brian Tracey recommends, to spend at least 3% of your income on yourself – you will reap the rewards, as every organisation who invests wisely in their employees does.
Fourth, are you stimulating people by varying their tasks, by involving them, and by improving the environment in which they work – in which they operate on your behalf? One fundamental need of human being is for variety, and too much ‘sameness’ stifles creativity and also leads to more errors as a result of boredom. Furthermore, improving the environment says something about how much you value and respect them – and about your real values too. Are you really people-centric or is that just mission mish-mash?
Fifth, do you give people ample recognition for their contributions? Especially their creative contributions – the points of innovation are particularly where recognition is required if you are to have a thriving company. One only has to think of certain IT companies and their celebration of individuals’ creativity to begin to realise what is possible. The sad truth is: so often someone’s bright idea becomes their manager’s, and this is so de-motivating. Staff treated in this way tend not to innovate again; they tend to just do their job instead.
Sixth, do you allow real responsibility without constantly interfering? Another way of putting this is: stop micro-managing staff, most hate it! Micro-management always disempowers staff. Naturally, if staff ask for help, give it freely. But the avoidance of micro-management involves the following steps: set clear objectives for members of staff – tell them WHAT you expect them to achieve, but – unless they ask – do not them HOW to do it. You may feel important, they won’t.
Finally, seventh, is there a realistic career path for your people? What systems are in place to help people develop? There is a strange, unspoken belief that somehow people working in a company are there forever – as if it were a marriage! In today’s world, especially, what could be further from the truth? People move on, people want careers, and unless your organisation is geared to provide optimum satisfactions, then it is highly likely staff will move on sooner rather than later. Bizarrely, providing them with good career support is likely to slow down their exit strategy, because it is an optimum satisfaction to know that one is going ‘somewhere’ – which is what realistic career paths articulate.
Give yourself a score out of ten – ten meaning this is done excellently well by your organisation and one meaning this is a mess – for each of the seven motivational ideas. How do you rate? Which one area is your lowest score? That is where you need to get to work – one piece at a time. And if you do, you will find motivation of staff starts increasing, and so will performance – and performance gains lead to productivity gains, and these lead to … more profit! Go for it.
To find out more about James Sale and Motivational Maps, check out the website or call 01202 513043