If you’ve been following my career coaching posts, you will have seen my tips for falling in love with your job and making it an enjoyable part of your life.
For leaders and people managers, the missing piece in the jigsaw is how to help their staff to love their jobs. Motivated staff are not only great for business, they are also important for the way they influence your own job satisfaction. Have you ever managed people who didn’t really want to be at work? Maybe they were always complaining, counting the hours or had to be chased for their deliverables. What impact did they have on your mood and that of the rest of your team? One miserable member of staff can be enough to drag down the energy of everybody around them, including their leader.
The good news is that as a leader there are plenty of things you can do about it. Rather than taking a “carrot and stick” approach, consider the following:
1. It all starts with you!
The secret ingredient of staff motivation is you! You are one of the most important factors that influence the attitude and job satisfaction of your staff. Here is how:
Your emotional state
If you have mood swings, feel stressed or tend to be grumpy, it will impact on the morale in your team. You don’t even need to say anything; they will pick up on your energy. So take care of your own emotional state first. This may require you to look at what is going on for you at work and in your private life. A life coach can help you with this.
Your own motivation
If you love your job, show your staff! If you don’t enjoy your work, it will be difficult to motivate them. In that case it’s time to ask yourself why you don’t love your job and then do something about it. Read my articles “How to fall in love with your job” and “Ditch that Work-Life Balance” for inspiration. Just imagine what a difference it could make if you radiated enthusiasm and passion for what you do at work!
Act as a role model! Staff are known to copy their manager’s language and behaviours. For example, if you have a habit of moaning and making jokes about “those hopeless people in IT”, your staff will take this behaviour as acceptable and quite probably start doing the same. Such behaviour can be infectious, especially when people try to bond by imitating you. What may have started as a light-hearted comment can quickly turn into a culture of moaning, cynicism and negativity.
Luckily, this also works the other way round. Sharing your enthusiasm and displaying positive and constructive behaviours can be equally infectious if done in an authentic way.
2. Treat your team members as individuals
When it comes to motivational strategies, one size doesn’t fit all. There are different mentalities, learning styles, personal goals and values. You can explore them through diagnostics such as Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram (my favourite!), constructive one-to-ones or simply by chatting to your staff!
Find out what each member of your team values most in life. Help them find ways to pursue these things in their roles. For example, if a staff member thrives on social contacts, don’t leave her stuck behind a desk. Find job tasks where her social skills are a valuable asset, eg networking or customer facing roles. Another staff member may have a strong value on community; get him involved in corporate social responsibility projects.
3. Show them how they matter
Connect your team to the values and purpose of your company. Make it authentic and specific by talking about the contributions they make to your customers, colleagues and the communities your company deals with. Most people have a desire to work for a meaningful purpose. Show them how they are doing just that.
4. Promote a sense of professional pride
It feels good to take pride in your work. At your next team meeting try out an exercise where team members can articulate what they are proud of about their job. Find professional values that are shared across your staff and use them to create a mission statement for your team that ties in with the mission statement of the company.
Staff can react cynically when mission statements are designed from the top. Mission statements are far more likely to inspire and be taken seriously if developed from the bottom.
5. Reward and celebrate success
This does not need to be financial. Recognition and praise will go a long way. Show your staff how you value them and make sure to get the tone right. There is a fine line between encouraging and patronising praise.
6. Stay in contact
Have regular one-to-ones to stay in touch with what is going on with your staff, both at work and outside work. Learn about their challenges, successes and aspirations.
7. Provide healthy stretches
Staff who remain in their comfort zone for too long can get bored and frustrated. On the other hand, if they are pushed too far beyond their comfort zone they can experience high levels of stress and eventually burn out.
Find a healthy middle ground that inspires them and provides variety and opportunity for growth.
8. Look out for warning signs
If you witness signs of frustration, resentment, irritability or high stress levels in your team, don’t ignore them! Talk to the affected team members and find out how you can support them before negative sentiments spread to the rest of the team or health issues appear.
9. What if none of this works?
If none of the above measures work, it’s time for a frank discussion with the disgruntled staff member about what he or she wants. You may even explore whether he or she would be happier working for another company. Be gentle though. Rather than confronting them directly, ask non-confrontational and open ended questions that allow the relevant staff members to become aware of the issues for themselves.
No time for this?
If you think that you don’t have time to implement the above ideas, then consider the costs of not taking action. How will it impact you, your team and your company if staff morale plummets? Can you afford to have team members who are bored, disengaged or cynical, or staff who become irritable, ill or make frequent mistakes because they are overworked? Can you afford to lose the staff you’ve invested in and begin the process of recruiting others?
What kind of leader do you want to be?
I have seen leaders who are distant and rule through fear and pressure, and others who lead with their heart and vision. Which one is more likely to have a positive impact on morale and productivity? Which one do you want to be – and how will it make you feel?
Investing in your staff starts with an investment in yourself. Book a FREE Discovery Call with me here to explore how executive coaching will help you become more effective at bringing out the best in your staff.