One of the biggest roles leaders play in an organisation is inspiring and motivating team members to produce their best work. That means getting employees engaged and excited about the work they are doing.
Here’s the good news about employee engagement: A Gallup study in 2019 showed the percentage of engaged workers that are highly involved and enthusiastic about their work has risen to an all-time high! The bad news is the all-time high level of engagement is barely more than a third of all employees (35%).
If you want to significantly move your business forward, you’ve got to keep those 35% motivated and get the other 65% engaged!
Inspire and Engage Your Team
Here are eight ways to inspire and engage your team:
1. Work on Yourself First
Before you can get others excited about the job, you’ve got to make sure you are engaged. This may mean getting your hands dirty and working alongside your team members for a while. Ask lots of questions and understand the workflow and process. Take time to learn about what gets them excited, what frustrates them, and what they dislike about their jobs.
If you’re not engaged with the work – and the workers – they won’t be either. Consider making an investment in leadership training for yourself to learn techniques to inspire and engage your team.
2. Define the Mission
Whether you have a written mission statement or not is less important than making sure team members know what the mission is. When they understand the mission, it provides them with a template for better decision-making. If they know the direction you’re going and how you make decisions, this framework can guide them as they go about their jobs.
It can keep them from going astray.
“Without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realise it was leaning against the wrong building,” said financial guru Dave Ramsey. Make sure everybody on the team knows where the ladder should be pointed before they start the climb.
When every team member knows the mission, it leads to better workplace culture. When the mission is clearly defined, employees that go “off mission” are more visible. This makes it easier for co-workers and managers to help guide them back on mission.
You may think your team members know the mission, but you might be surprised. A study in the Journal of Brand Management revealed that just 40% of employees say they know their company and its products well and understand how their role fits into the brand mission.
4. Address Roadblocks
One of the key reasons team members cite for not being engaged is the frustrations they encounter on the job. It’s not the daily struggles, but the overall sense that nobody is doing anything about the roadblocks that prevent them from doing a good job. At best, this leads to unengaged workers. At worst, it leads to toxic behaviour that undermines the mission.
Understanding these roadblocks and finding ways to remove them demonstrates your commitment to the team. It helps define a positive workplace culture and can aid their career development.
5. Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals
There is a clear and undeniable link between setting goals and employee performance. People are simply more productive when they understand the mission and have clear goals to meet.
In goal setting, S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
The more specific you can be when creating the goals, the more effective it will be. You must be able to define and measure the outcome, so team members will know whether they are meeting the goal.
Employees must believe the goals are achievable. A goal that seems beyond reach is demotivating. Goals need to be relevant to their job and ability to attain. Finally, there needs to be a defined time for completion.
6. Put the Right People in the Right Positions
Another key goal in management is to staff teams with the right people and put them in the right positions. Start by evaluating your top performers. Are they in positions that will provide you with maximum benefit while helping with their career development?
Leveraging skills sets by getting the right people in the right position can significantly improve productivity. People are happier when they believe they are in the right spot and utilising their talents. This also helps people grow and learn.
As James Singeal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco, said: “If you hire good people, give them good jobs, and pay them good wages, generally something good is going to happen.”
7. Invest in Regular Training
Even if they are experienced, new employees need the training to understand how you want them to tackle their job. Current employees, even those with years on the job, need to be reminded what’s important. They also need to learn new skills to adapt to evolving business challenges.
Providing regular training and making a commitment to leadership training shows you are investing in the team. It shows a commitment to career development by providing them tools to do their job better.
It can also help demonstrate what skills you value and what it takes to be successful.
8. Let Them Do Their Job
This is one of the most difficult things to do, especially for new managers without years of experience or leadership training. Micro-managing workers typically leads to employees that will do what you say, but likely not go beyond that. They get used to being told what to do and will wait for you to tell them.
What you want are engaged employees that think for themselves. They understand the mission and the goals and will work together to achieve them. One of your top goals should be to stop telling them what to do and, instead, show them what needs to be done and give them the tools and training to accomplish it. The best team members will show you things you didn’t know.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do,” said Apple’s Steve Jobs. Instead, Jobs said, we should hire smart people and let them tell us what needs to be done.
This doesn’t mean you abdicate your role. Your job still depends on getting the work done. It may mean you do have to step in and do course corrections or provide hands-on training. However, empowering employees to do their job – especially when they are engaged – shows a level of trust and respect that leads to higher job satisfaction and higher productivity.
Your Most Valuable Asset
The most valuable asset you have as a business leader is your people. This human capital will make the difference between success and failure.
“You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world,” said Walt Disney. “But it requires people to make the dream a reality.”
No matter how talented you are, you can’t do it alone. You will need an engaged workforce that’s motivated and inspired to meet company goals. All the leadership training in the world won’t help if you don’t invest in your team.