How do you motivate employees and drive results at the same time?
When we think about a results-driven leader, we picture someone who is driving with intense focus toward a goal. Eyes front. No nonsense. A person who embodies the message, “Get out of my way, I will win!”
On the other hand, motivation requires that a leader possess a high degree of people skills, directing his or her energy toward inspiring and building positive relationships with their team. This requires taking the time to help employees develop new skills and talents along the way to success.
This is a lot to ask!
How do you, as leader, manage all this without losing your own focus or momentum?
Here are a few simple shifts that will help you both drive and motivate your team.
1. Leverage is your best friend – embrace it.
As a leader, you may feel as though you bear the burden of full responsibility to achieve the goals that have been placed before you. Not so!
Your job is to set the vision, map out the course, assign responsibilities, teach people the right steps to excel, and coach them to the finish line. If you feel as though you are pulling and dragging people to reach this finish line, you are carrying weight that doesn’t belong to you. You have disempowered your team. Your team wants to feel valued and that they contribute toward the larger picture. Put on your coaching “hat” and get out of the way.
2. Your foundation is everything.
Your foundation consists of your plan, your people, and the resources to do the job.
a. Is your plan solid?
Does it contain the “teeth” to leave no room for question? If your people are stalling at certain points, this means you need to clarify how to move forward. And are you regularly checking to see if the plan is moving your team in the right direction? This tells your team you care about them and their success.
b. Do you have the right people in place?
If you have a chronic underperformer, the finger should point back at you. What does this person need in order to perform more effectively? Have that conversation and if you discover that you are part of the problem, adjust and rewind. If, on the other hand, you find that the person simply isn’t the right fit, do yourself, the employee, and the rest of the team a favor and have the critical conversation that has been looming for some time.
c. Are you providing your team with the resources they need to do the job?
This is a big item. If you are asking them to reach the seemingly impossible, you also need to identify what they will need in order to achieve this. A runner can’t run without a well-mapped out course and the right amount of energy bars and water. Likewise, your team member can’t perform to capacity unless he receives the right kind of support and resources. What do your team members need in order to work more effectively? Ask! This helps them to see you have their best interests in mind and want to see them win.
3. “Rinse and repeat” should be your mantra.
It’s not how many steps; it’s how many right steps.
Be careful that you don’t throw your team off course if you aren’t seeing big results quickly. Check your direction, and check the steps you have outlined to get there. I recall leading a multi-million dollar campaign that had never before been achieved. As I learned to put together the strategic plan that ultimately helped us reach and exceed $21.3M in four years (unprecedented!), it was a real eye-opener to realize that just five steps, when repeated over and over, reaped the lion’s share of our results.
Have you identified your own multi-step formula? When you do, and you allow your team to flex and grow while working these steps, it allows them to master these, as well, because they must repeat them many times.
People love learning, and they love achieving. This is motivating. And that is what this does.
4. Evaluate often and collaboratively.
You need to have regular meetings set up to evaluate progress – no surprise (but I’m astounded at the number of leaders who don’t do this).
However, if you want to motivate your people, if you want to help them learn and grow, you will want to conduct your evaluations in a different way.
First, be sure you begin these meetings with celebrating what has gone well. Identify what is working and recognize people for their efforts.
Secondly, identify the “points of learning.” What didn’t work as well as you had hoped? Have your team dissect this with you and keep the focus on the moves and tactics that needing adjusting. No finger-pointing.
Third, address any big concerns, and allow the team to give input as to how these concerns might be addressed. You are allowing them to participate in creative problem-solving and to give them a “voice” in the solution. Again, feeling as though you are part of the solution and that your thoughts count is very motivating and reminds people that they are important to the larger picture.
It is always a sad sore spot with me when leaders are recognized for achievements and efforts, and the team goes unrecognized.
Begin with your team – recognize them for efforts even if you can’t recognize for results.
Identify what about their contribution was helpful – get specific. In other words, saying “Good job on last week’s efforts, Dan,” rings hollow. But “Good job on your efforts to negotiate with our competitor, Dan. I believe your connecting with them will bear fruit,” is much different. Tell them why you are recognizing them and be sincere.
And when it comes time for you as leader to be recognized in bigger meetings, don’t forget to call out how your team helped to win. You truly could not have done this yourself – and you need to recognize this with others.
If you truly want to motivate and inspire your people, let them know they are an integral part of the success.
How do their contributions make a difference? And then, allow them to use these gifts to do so.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.