By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
Have you ever listened to a speech that inspired you so much, you were ready to make a change in your life immediately? What was it about that person, that presentation, that drove you to take action? Chances are, the speaker had some pretty solid qualities that inspired you to follow their lead.
Now imagine a typical day at your office. Are your employees energized and ready to drive change, or do they appear quiet and listless, only striving for the bare minimum?
Motivating your employees, while no easy feat, is critical to driving results. When people come to me for help with a career change, they are often looking to leave a job due to a bad boss, lack of opportunity, or pure boredom (aka not enough change). As a career coach, I remind my clients that some of this is due to poor leadership, while some simply boils down to a lack of communication. You don’t want to be the “boring boss” who could have, in fact, potentially saved that employee from walking out the door, do you? Chances are, if this person was looking for growth – for change – you could have inspired them to make it happen.
The catch? To inspire change in your employees, you need to spend just as much time working on yourself as you do working to inspire others. Here’s how.
Be an expert communicator.
Have an open-door policy that employees actually use and believe in. If you allow for more two-way dialogue and open communication, your employees will learn to trust you. Not only is communication important for results, it’s important for the bottom line as well. $26,041 is the cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from – you guessed it – communications barriers. Yikes. So aim for healthy, professional dialogue with your employees. Ask for feedback as much as you give it, and have candid conversations. In other words, it’s time to up your communication game.
Implement what you learn.
You already know your employees need to be heard. Now listen and take note of what peaks their interest. Assign projects based on strengths, as well as desires, and offer incentives. Perhaps one teammate is intrinsically motivated by reward and praise. Another values personal development. Happy employees are motivated employees. And motivated employees are more likely to drive change, whether it be in themselves or within the greater organization. Besides, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.
Practice what you preach.
In other words, don’t just bark orders and retreat to your corner office. (Communication, remember?) Your employees want to see you put in some of the work too. Of course, it’s important to delegate and you may be beyond your time in the weeds, but if you’re able to develop a sense of rapport with your employees, you will be well-respected and, dare I say, inspiring? Share your vision and then act as a role model, working alongside your team to implement it.
Empower your employees.
When you place the power in your employees’ hands, you’ll begin to notice subtle shifts like increased engagement. It may be slight at first, but this is where the magic happens. Give your employees autonomy and accountability, and observe as changes happen within your team. With your open-door policy and expert communication skills already in place, they should come to you if they ever feel in over their heads. But chances are, they’re more capable than you think.
While change won’t happen overnight, it’s important to take time to build an environment founded on trust, communication, and empowerment. Without a solid foundation, it’s tough to expect your employees to do anything above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities.
So remember that speaker you so greatly admired and how she made you feel. Go forth exuding that confidence and enthusiasm so that you can inspire change in your employees.