If you look ‘inspire’ up in the dictionary, it’ll tell you that it means ‘Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something’. It’ll also telling you that it’s a verb – a ‘doing’ word, as you might have heard it described at school. This isn’t a passive activity – to be inspirational takes action.
Driving your business forward is an essential element of leadership, and to make real progress, you will need the support of your team. How do you get that support? Let’s take a look at some strategies.
Communicate your vision
There’s a fairly well-known anecdote about a visit John F. Kennedy paid to NASA. While he was there, he saw a man mopping the floor and he asked him what his job was. The answer? ‘I’m helping send a man to the moon.’
You know what you are working towards; let the team know, too, and give them the chance to buy in to your vision. On those days when everything feels very much like hard work, it can make the difference between them giving up or stepping up. Let’s face it, what would you rather be working towards – a clean floor or sending a man to the moon?
Give people something measurable to work towards
This follows on from communicating your vision. You want to be able to show that progress is being made, so set achievable goals – for you, your business and your team. The key word here is ‘achievable’. Yes, they can be stretch targets, but they must be possible to reach. If they aren’t, people will recognise that and simply won’t try.
Get the team involved
Seek feedback and ideas from your team. Part of being a team is feeling like you belong, and a powerful aspect of that is being asked to contribute. It’s another way to show people that they are valued. Besides, your team knows a great deal about the business and the people who use it – it would be crazy not to tap into that knowledge! Allowing people to contribute to how things are done is a powerful motivator.
Always give praise where it’s due. Take time to celebrate achievements and to enjoy your successes: as individuals, as a team and as a business.
The other side of that coin is that poor performance must also be addressed. If you do everything else right but let someone who isn’t pulling their weight get away with it, then you undo all your good efforts. People will see you behaving inconsistently and may either stop trying or else just leave. Either way, it won’t inspire them and it won’t help you achieve your vision.
Pay people fairly
Make sure you give a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
Many people think that the only way to motivate workers is to pay them more. While it’s necessary to pay people fairly, money in and of itself is generally only useful as a short-term motivator. If an employee is unhappy in their job, then being paid more to do it will only put a spring in their step for a short while – the new salary quickly becomes the new norm, and the old problems bubble back up to the surface.
To move the business in the direction you want to take it in, you need the support of your team. Inspiring them to want to support you is always going to be more effective than punishing them if they don’t. People want to feel they have achieved something as a result of their efforts at work, and that is best facilitated with the carrot, not the stick.
So, have a clear vision and share it. Set goals, so you can measure progress. Get the team involved – people love to feel they are a part of something and to make an active contribution. Give praise where it is due, but beware of allowing poor performance to creep in and ruin things. And pay people fairly, but don’t think throwing money at a problem will solve it.
We can help
If you can see that you would benefit from taking positive steps to inspire your team but you aren’t sure where to start, get in touch. We can help, and we’re happy to share what we know works – it’s what we do here, so it’s tried and tested!