Here is a timely message from my friend John Ratliff that really tees up our workshop on Friday. I thank John for letting me share his spot on thoughts.
I love talking about employee culture, and really enjoy dispelling a lot of the myths that surround how to create a great culture.
One of the biggest is “I’ve got to get my people more motivated.” You hear it all the time. I always imagine the same visual when I hear that quote - an overzealous manager trying to be “rah rah!” and give a great speech and high fives. All while the employees are rolling their eyes behind the scenes.
Here is the dirty little secret…
You cannot “motivate” anyone.
You can’t force or manipulate someone to do stuff they don’t really want to be doing.
You certainly can cajole, threaten, and coerce them to do stuff but that is hardly a good way to build culture!!
So then what can you do???
It is very simple (but not easy).
You can inspire them.
Employees that are truly INSPIRED by the company they work with, the people they work with (by the way, it is “with” not “for”, no one really works “for” anyone) become SELF-MOTIVATED. You see, motivation is internal, not external. No one except you, can motivate you. Someone can inspire you, which creates massive motivation, but not the other way around!
So how do you INSPIRE people? There are a ton of ideas and ways, but here are a few:
#1: Most important is… don’t UNINSPIRE them!! I know it sounds simple, but it takes effort not to do dumb stuff, or to put them with dumb people, or to have them doing unnecessary (or the wrong) things.
So with that out of the way…
#2: Create an atmosphere where employees are part of something bigger than themselves. Have a great purpose, and talk about it a lot. EVERY generation, and especially younger generations, want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Give them something to strive for.
#3: Another simple but important one, make sure you remove road blocks and things that aren’t optimal or easy. Bad technology, poorly designed processes, uncomfortable office environments, etc., all can serve to demotivate. These are all invisible costs that can suck the life out of an organization!
#4: Give and take feedback so your people feel seen and heard. If you have a culture that values input and “give and take,” your team will feel aligned and truly a part of something bigger (see #2).
#5: Maybe the MOST important… have a clearly defined set of Core Values and live them every day inside your company. Making Core Values come alive is an astonishingly powerful way to inspire anyone.
#6: Last, but definitely not least… do not fake it. Don’t hang up posters or put in ping pong tables with the hopes that great culture will just magically appear. You have to own culture, create culture, and nurture culture constantly. The minute someone thinks they are being manipulated, you may as well close up shop. Game over. If you don’t believe deeply that you own culture, don’t do anything at all until you do.
Now, take some time (sooner than later!) to get real clarity on how you can inspire your people. I promise you, motivation will follow!
P.S. Please check out this book by Nick Sonnenberg. Come Up For Air: How Teams Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work is the only productivity book teams need to get more done with less. It covers the principles of the CPR® Business Efficiency Framework, a proven system for leaders, managers, and teams to maximize their performance and reduce overwhelm by using the right tools in the right way, at the right time.