Motivating people boils down to one thing: rhetoric. We’re not talking about the mumbo jumbo you hear from politicians. We’re talking about Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric: the art of persuasion. Being able to motivate people comes first and foremost from the strategies you use to communicate. Use the right strategies, and watch the world around you fall in line.
Authority: Use It or Lose It.
The psychology of influence is a complex and fascinating topic. Thanks to Stanley Milgram, we now know that people would even deliver lethal electric shocks if an authority figure told them to do so. The profound influence of authority should be used to your best advantage (preferably not for delivering electric shocks.) If you are the leader of a team, demonstrating your authority is one of the best ways to get others in line with your objectives. How do you do that? You act like the alpha dog, because you are the alpha dog. You lead by example and communicate clearly what you expect and when. You show genuine concern for the members of your team. A leader can’t be detached from his or her staff. You must connect with the individuals on your team. Only then can you inspire people by behaving in an exemplary manner. At the same time, you must stand up for yourself and take pride in your accomplishments. Make your dynamism, pride, and energy contagious. At the end of the day, your peons are working to be like you. Show them it’s something worth aspiring to. For more details, check out this course on power persuasion.
Social Ties: Making the Most of Peer Pressure.
We’ve all heard the expression ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch.’ The same is true in the workplace. If one person on your team is using company time to write a children’s book or play Sudoku, you can expect that others will notice. Nip bad behavior in the bud before it contaminates your group. At the same time, when you find someone who goes the extra mile, make sure that person gets the public praise and recognition they deserve. By setting clear targets, goals and responsibilities, you help individuals recognize their critical role in the group. When employees feel accountable to each other, they perform better, and they are more motivated.
Fairness: The Key to Keeping People on Track.
Motivation in the workplace is only effective when workers are committed, and commitment comes from a strong sense that they will be appropriately rewarded and treated fairly. No one can trust someone who is inconsistent. Transparency and openness are key. If your employees don’t trust you, you won’t get their best performance. Even the best leader can’t get consensus if his reign is tainted by nepotism and favoritism. Step back and ensure that you’ve been making fair and equitable calls. If you haven’t, make an official apology and a commitment to do things right from here on out. At the same time, show your employees that you are committed to their success by giving them opportunities for self-improvement and recognition from the higher-ups.
Expectations: Set the Bar High.
The best way to get the best out of your people is to set the bar high. When you expect the most out of someone, you’ll get better results than if you underestimate their abilities. Take a page out of Google’s playbook. Google employees are allowed to use ten percent of their workday to develop their own ideas. The company is paying them to do side projects? Yes. The take home message to employees: Google is invested in its people, and the company believes in their success. Open up the opportunities for advancement and watch your people excel. Give everyone the opportunity to make a big splash. If you feel like you still need a bit more help to be the leader you want to be, invest in yourself with this leadership course.
Incentives: Rewards That Work.
Have you ever heard the interview question, “why do you want to work here?” Silly isn’t it? At the end of the day, we all work to get paid. Financial incentives can be big motivators. Set targets and goals for your team and give them a legitimate reward for achieving them. Whether it’s lunch with the boss or a trip to a day spa, even simple incentives give great results. If you don’t have the budget to reward great results with a bonus, most people are motivated by recognition, praise and advancement.
The Simple Secret: Make Them Happy
If you’re an Office Manager at the Swiss bank UBS, it’s in the job description to keep office morale up. Why? Because happy employees are productive employees. If you don’t already have ‘increase office morale’ in the job description for someone at your office, make that happen. You need someone to plan the informal happy hours, the unexpected game of charades at lunch, the silly Secret Santa program. These kinds of things may sound like superfluous nonsense, but nothing could be further from the truth. Team building and bonding exercises pay dividends when it comes to productivity. Positive experiences at work help you retain valuable employees. If you need some help tapping into your own happiness mojo, this course is designed to help you hack into happiness.
The Nitty Gritty of Leadership Communication: Strategies That Pay Off.
Do you communicate like a leader? Check the list below to see how you measure up. Effective leaders use all of the following techniques.
- Use and disseminate appropriate, short, motivational phrases to garner attention and demonstrate common goals (i.e. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” Henry Ford.)
- Provide detailed schedules, meeting agendas and timetables to make your objectives clear and to demonstrate your organization, authority, and commitment to the project. (Stick to them.)
- Create a formal written document that details company policies and requirements setting clear guidelines for advancement and achievement. In the same document, delineate the behaviors or shortcomings that may result in censure. Be explicit as to the consequences for sub-par performance. Remember to keep the tone of the document, impartial, encouraging, and non-threatening.
- Remind employees of the personal payoffs for their contributions. (i.e. “This weekend’s Management Training Program will help you develop the leadership skills necessary to succeed inside and outside of our organization.”)
- Use headings and bullet points to bring out the key pieces of information in lengthier communication.
- Head off criticism by justifying your actions in advance (i.e. “Group work has been shown to encourage more innovative ideas. That’s why we’re working in groups of five this morning.”)
- Anticipate objections and address those concerns head-on in your communication materials.
No matter where you are in the hierarchy of your organization, it’s never too early to adopt the communication style of an effective leader. True leaders adapt to change and invest in their futures. If you’re ready to get to the next level in your career, you owe it to yourself to become the best communicator you can be.