Developing Your Talent

Develop Your Talent

5 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your Employees

By Lee Hecht Harrison on August 26, 2014

While many successful leaders know how to handle the nuts and bolts of a business, they may fall short in inspiring and motivating their workforce to greatness. As John Quincy Adams, our sixth President, said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

A study reported in Harvard Business Review surveyed over 300,000 bosses, peers and subordinates to determine what skills have the greatest impact on a leader’s success, asking respondents to rank 16 competencies of managers at four levels of authority.  Of the 16 competencies, the “ability to inspire and motivate others” was seen as most important across all management positions.

Here are five ways to inspire and motivate your employees:

  1. Be accessible. Be available, informed and responsive.  Carve out time for brief, impromptu conversations with colleagues beyond the executive suite. Only by actively listening to employees will leaders uncover what motivates their workforce.
  2. Recognize strong performance. Make an effort to catch people “doing things right” and thank them for their efforts — preferably in front of their peers. Formal recognition programs provide a structure for on-going feedback, but never underestimate the value of informal gestures of appreciation.
  3. Provide feedback and coaching. Employees need to know exactly what they’re doing right or wrong, and that requires ongoing, specific feedback from managers. Look for opportunities in the moment to provide informal coaching and development.
  4. Offer insight into the big picture.  Teams need to focus on a collective vision and understand how their individual responsibilities impact the big picture. In doing so, all team members share in accountability — rather than just focusing on their individual role.
  5. Act decisively.  Employees respect leaders who assume authority and act with integrity and decisiveness. There’s comfort in knowing your leader has control and that things won’t go off the rails.

Leaders fail to inspire and motivate when they fail to demonstrate trust, respect, integrity and genuine interest.  Practice these techniques and your employees will not only feel valued and engaged, but will want to go above and beyond.

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