For most managers, getting employees to generate fresh ideas is a never-ending task. Obstacles include low morale, misunderstood motivational techniques, inadequate training, and high employee turnover. However, inspiring your staff creates a win-win situation: your team will be more eager to come to work, and when your employees are excited about their work, their productivity soars and your business reaps the benefits.
- Make sure everyone wins. Healthy change and great ideas won’t happen if employees see no specific benefits in it for them. They need to know that giving their all will be mutually beneficial. In other words, if they believe you’re exploiting them for their ideas, you’re doomed. Inspiring your employees requires everyone and every department, from the mailroom clerk to the president, to be mutually supportive. If your employees don’t feel appreciated, even the best pep talks will fall flat.
- Provide recognition. Publicly acknowledging fresh ideas and achievements builds morale and encourages healthy change. And praise needn’t always be formal either; verbal compliments are often more effective if you make them part of your daily communication. Celebrate your employee’s successes with e-mails sent out to the entire department. Or buy them lunch if they come up with a really great idea. Even small rewards are guaranteed to make an impression. L etting your employees know you appreciate their contributions will motivate them to strive for more.
- Walk the talk. Remember, you’re every employee’s number one role model. That means if you’re asking your employees to generate new ideas, you need to show them how it’s done. Come up with your own ideas, including some crazy ones, to let them know that no new idea is a bad one.
- Encourage feedback. Great ideas don’t come from isolation; they come from a mutually supportive environment. Solicit your staff’s input by asking them if they’re getting the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. Maintain an open-door policy so they know you’re willing to listen and provide guidance. Most important, pay close attention to what they’re saying, perhaps even repeating it back to them from time to time to show them you’re listening.
- Let them know they matter. Take the time to explain to your staff how their individual performance fits into the company’s overall goals. This will help them realize that every new idea they come up with can have a positive, lasting impact on the company’s overall success and bottom line.
- Show enthusiasm in your work. Eight hours a day can feel like 20, or it can feel like five. The difference is how engaged employees are in their work, and that begins with a mutual belief that everyone is in it together — and that starts with you, the manager. By showing enthusiasm in your own work, you instill the same enthusiasm in your employees.
- Trust in your team. Trusting your team’s skills and incorporating their good ideas sends everyone’s morale soaring. The opposite is also true — you’ll kill their enthusiasm by not give their ideas due consideration. If, after hearing it, you still don’t think an employee’s idea is so hot, tell them honestly. Your employees will respect you and be more likely to stay by your side if they know you can be counted on to tell the truth.
- To motivate, be a motivator. Employees learn accepted office behavior from how the boss acts. So do your best to maintain a positive, high-energy frame of mind. By teaching your employees to stay in the constructive zone and support one another, you will all consistently experience an engaging, successful work life, one replete with a lot of healthy change and many great ideas.