People on a team, even a small, collaborative team, may not be motivated by the same things or in the same way. A leader can give a rousing motivational talk that she thinks she has hit out of the park and still leave half her team feeling unmoved. This is not uncommon, nor is it necessarily a recipe for disaster. But it is worth noting.
Motivation needs to happen one person at a time. It can be exhausting for a leader, and those that can’t or won’t make the effort may soon find themselves in a role that doesn’t require such intimate contact with individuals. Keeping a team focused on their goals and collaborating in an engaged manner requires understanding and touching the needs and motivators of each individual. And each individual is different.
So leaders, strap on your helmets, and put your heads down and get in there. If you think you can do it with a hands off approach, you are dreaming. Think about it from an employee point of view? What if they are thinking- Why should I care about this? Why are we doing it this way when my way is better? This is a waste of my time! You want to know and respond to these types of concerns. If you don’t, then what?
Strategy and planning are a big part of business. Defining and declaring a clear vision for a company is a big step, but not the only big step in business success. Management retreats are a common venue for great minds to gather together to think and strategize about their company’s future. At the end of the retreat, strategies, objectives and goals have been set. In an ideal world, the executives go back to the day-to-day, energized by the plan they have created and expecting that the troops are going to buy in, fall in line and implement so that success will prevail. In the real world, habits die hard. Old mindsets, practices, policies and procedures still exist. They undermine and derail and, if not continually taken into consideration, will just plain suck the life out of any hopes for the new strategies being successful. How can we avoid this?
Let’s return to the retreat and allow for time to actually conduct a force field analysis. What’s that you ask? It’s an exercise to identify those forces that pull you closer to success and those that actually pull you closer and closer to disaster? This valuable exercise identifies the path to success and the forces that are obstacles standing in the way.
Good or bad, right or wrong, are you willing to find those forces that alter your company’s destiny?
Labor Day weekend seems to be a yearly turning point for many businesses. It is a time to shake off the business doldrums brought on by summer’s beautiful weather and the siren call of the beach and the mountains. It is a “get serious” moment as it signifies the push through the last few months of the year. Many leaders need to have a highly successful post- Labor Day to have a good year. There is a desire for renewed energy as everyone realizes they need a little bit of extra effort to hit their numbers.
This return to normalcy could be viewed in both a positive or negative light. On the positive side, leaders have recognized that their troops need some time to re-charge their batteries. They have planned out their year so the summer is lower key but still productive. They have carefully put things in place during the summer to enable their employees to successfully ramp up after the holiday. Most businesses have ebbs and flows in their calendars and utilizing them to be productive is critical. Taking inventory, cleaning or re-configuring warehouses, doing strategic planning, holding company outings- all can take place when things are a bit slower. Leaders shouldn’t waste this time. They should use it to go into the fall months with momentum. So summer is part of the yearly plan to achieve certain objectives.
On the other hand, if the summer months have been treated as down time for the company as a whole, without thought or planning, it is awful hard to start September with all cylinders firing. Just as you never see a pitcher going into a game without warming up or an orchestra start a concert without tuning up for fear of disastrous results, business leaders need to recognize that a warmup is important. Failure to do a re-set on the year’s goals and objectives could leave employees without sufficient focus. It could be like returning from a long trip in a very different time zone. Folks are a bit disoriented and not quite with it. The time it takes to get up to speed is lost time for a company, time that cannot be recovered. Those who believe that things can get back to normal automatically after being in first gear for a couple of months are fooling themselves.
Summer can be viewed as an attitude. Leaders can make it a positive one by allowing employees the time they need to get away from work, pursue their interests and enjoy their families so they bring energy to their work when they return. But there also has to be an ongoing sense of purpose and business as usual which is part of that. And those returning from vacation need to be brought back into any new initiatives or processes quickly so they can be motivated and engaged.
The fall is usually a busy time in business, but there are obstacles. Think about the next big time challenge- Thanksgiving to the end of the year. For retailers (including e-retailers) it is make or break and there is no thought of slacking off. Their teams need to be ready and excited for that. For many businesses there is a belief that nobody is available to do business during that period so they think of it as a slow time. Many think their deadlines are “soft” rather than “hard”, assuming the customers or clients are taking it a bit easy. That is an old wives’ tale. Make sure that business goes on, calls are made, meetings are held and commitments are kept. At the very least you will be setting up the first quarter of next year. The more excuses you make, the more you will find, and soon you will be in full swing only half of the year. Picture what that could do to your numbers.
Businesses cannot afford to ignore the opportunities that exist in their perceived slow times. There is always much to do, even if key people go on vacation. The work of the organization should not stop. We always complain there is never enough time. There would be more if people used what is there more effectively. Company core values and the behaviors that support them need to be followed year round.
On another note, there was a story in a recent Wall Street Journal article that had a headline that started with “Wouldn’t it be nice…” It led me to think of a few things that fall into that category.
Wouldn’t it be nice if:
I know there are a lot more. Any suggestions?
Businesses rarely fail because of talent or resources. Actually, there is plenty of that to go around. Failure happens because of each individual’s motivation. It’s not a leader’s job to motivate. Motivation is an intrinsic factor that only comes from within. And although motivation is not the leader’s job, it is their job to inspire.
To clear up some confusion in the words, here’s the definitions according to businessdictionary.com
Motivation: Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal. Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the (1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3)expectations of the individual These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way.
Inspiration: The act of influencing subordinants to perform and engage in achieving a goal.
Leadership that Inspires
Yes, lions roar. Research shows that lions roar to communicate, to claim their territory and as a strategy to distract or confuse their prey. While we may not want to focus on distraction and confusion, roaring can and does provide focus on top priorities.
I believe the real inspiration comes from the lion’s slow, dignified lift of the head as it surveys its surrounding to the power exuded in every muscle as they calmly, confidently, gracefully navigate through danger. They are often alone and apart from the crowd as they continually scan, survey and plan. Only theirs eyes in motion capturing all the potential dangers as well as the capabilities of their pride.
Appreciating that a lion’s motivation is much less complex than people, with food and safety as the primary motivator, leaders can still see the value to inspire as they communicate expectations, while calmly and critically surveying their organization’s climate and environment to more fully understand the underlying motivators of their team.
Dreams. A leader that inspires people to proactively discover their dreams and their passions will also help them to connect those dreams to the company’s vision and purpose. An inspirational leader helps to challenge people’s interests and ideas to come into alignment fully engaged and motivated to, not just do the jobs they have been assigned, but to actively become more innovative, creative and adaptable to change.
As each motivated individual sees opportunities that bring their closer to their dreams, they embrace learning new skills, becoming more resilient and taking more initiative to be more and do more within the organization. The inspirational leader now can rise above the day-to-day operations to take the business and their employees dreams to new heights.
Courage. Leadership can be really scary, especially if one is being held accountable for the actions of others. One of the greatest challenges that strong, successful , self-motivating individuals possess is the ability to delegate. It takes courage to delegate.
When I was in the corporate setting, I was offered a newly created Chief Operating Officer position. One of the first gifts that I received as a COO from the CEO was a little statue that said, “I believe in you.” This act tapped into my strong motivation to succeed in spite of often difficult and overwhelming odds. These acts of courage -taking the risk and believing in the unknown ME – inspired persistence and commitment, because I was NOT going to let her down.
We. For me, this quote offers a great summation to this blog. Fully understanding motivation serves to support individual beliefs and knowledge that significant contributions to the relationship, the project, the event, the business endeavor have been made.
Although it’s not a leader’s job to motivate. It is essential for leaders to inspire others to new heights of success. We would love to learn your thoughts on inspiration and motivation.
Whether one likes it or not, change happens. The change itself is not good or bad, in reality it’s quite neutral. It becomes good or bad based on these two major factors – resistance or engagement. Interestingly enough, experience and research seems to bear out that more walls are built by individuals and organizations around change than windmills.With the economic and social climates in constant flux there is a feeling of instability which causes strong actions and emotions.
Walls are built because…
Windmills are built because…
Change happens as sure as the sun rises and sets. As 720thinkers, we prefer to build windmills. How about you, will you built walls or windmills?