When you’re trying to motivate your staff, often the best way is to give them something that they can relate to, laugh about, or appeal directly to their feelings with a specific story. Sometimes fact, sometimes fiction, stories encourage your staff to think, and to reflect on the lessons. This is a much greater force than simply telling someone to work harder. If you really want to influence your staffs behavior you need to convince them that the goals are worth reaching. If this sounds interesting check out this course on becoming an influencer, and learn the power behind this mentality in your own workforce.
There are two main types of motivational stories for getting your employees fired up. The first is taking examples from real life, where people have overcome massive challenges and risen to success. By showing them that people in the same position have overcome whatever problems they had and reach their goal, you’re demonstrating it can be done. Giving them both an idol to look up to and encouraging them to strive ahead. As follows are real life examples you can use to motivate your employees towards success:
One of his main principles is that there’s no excuse for not trying. The first setback came when he didn’t make the varsity basketball team in sophomore year, because he was only 5’9” and his taller classmate Leroy Smith had taken the last spot on the team. Vowing to himself never to be in the same position again, he made a habit to practice daily – without fail. Hitting a growth spurt and reaching 6’3” he made the team the following year and never looked back. He went on to win two gold medals in the Olympics, and winning the NBA’s most valuable player 5 times in his career, it was his determination and practice that gave him the greatest success.
A massive commitment to finish what you start. In the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, his dreams as a sprinter were crushed as he faced a hamstring injury that took him out of the race. Instead of giving up and admitting defeat, giving over to the pain and submitting like many others would have done in that position – he was determined to cross the finish line. Hobbling towards the end of the race he almost is overcome by the pain his dad bursts onto the track and helps him to make it over the finish line. Sometimes you need to support your staff, and other times they need to do whatever it takes to get it done. You can watch the race for the maximum effect.
A household name today, but a woman with a troubled past. From being sexually abused at age 9, to living on the streets at 13, and losing her first baby at 14, she has overcome all of her troubled past to be a role model for an entire generation. Determined to succeed despite her past she became the first black woman on national television and a millionaire at the age of 32. She’s consistently voted one of the most influential people by Time, and is considered one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. The lesson is that no matter where your origins are, it’s up to you to decide what you will make of your life. Sitting down and wallowing in your own self pity means you will achieve nothing in your life. The battle isn’t over until you say it is.
Taking a step away from reality there are many motivational fables that serve an ultimate goal of delivering a lesson, which is the second type of motivational story you can share with employees. Your objective is to get your staff thinking, and reflecting on their own behaviors and actions. If you are really listening to your staff and know what’s troubling them, the right use of a motivational story can empower them to make their own decisions.
Outlook Makes All the Difference
Many years ago two salesmen were to Africa by a British shoe manufacturer. The goal of their trip was to investigate this new market, and to report their findings back to headquarters on the potential of the market.
- The first salesman came back with a rather dismal report, “There’s no potential at all here, because nobody wears shoes.”
- The second salesman came back with a rather different reply, “There’s massive potential in Africa, because nobody wears shoes.”
When telling this story put your inflection on the “nobody” as it helps to clarify that in a single situation, there are often many ways to look at the outcome.
It’s your choice as to how you interpret any situation, whether you’re looking at it positively with optimism, or as a challenge full of negativity. For helping your sales team to develop you have to check out this course, it’s packed with strategies to make them even more effective.
The Power of Positivity
There was a gardener who was running his family business, that had been passed down from his grandfather to his father and now to him. The staff were happy, and they had more than enough customers, and the team and business were both very successful. For as long as anyone could even remember, the current owner and his ancestors before him were always happy, positive and optimistic. Generally, people assumed that was because they were all running a very successful business.
Testament to this, there was a tradition of all the owners to wear a big lapel badge saying “Business is Great!” Generally, it was great, but there were tough times just like all businesses. The key was that no matter the success of the gardening business, the owners attitude was always the same.
The first time anyone saw the owner and the badge, they would invariably ask “What’s so great about your business?”, or make their own comments that their own companies were suffering, and they were miserable in their personal lives because of how stressed they were. What the badge was great for was starting a conversation, where the owner could then talk about all of the positive parts of the business.
- how much he loved meeting and talking with new people each day
- how rewarding it was as he helps staff rise to meet new challenges and experiences
- being able to laugh and relax in a work environment where all the team get along
- how much he loves helping people with the actual gardening
- the feeling of satisfaction from finishing a job to the best of his ability
- the new challenges that force you to learn something new everyday
- the thought that everyone doing business is blessed, because of the opportunity that comes with being in a civilized country, where there are no real worries.
The list goes on and on. No matter how bad a mood the customer was in before walking in the store, they would leave feeling an awful lot happier just from a couple of minutes talking to the owner and being a part of the infectious positivity and enthusiasm. Asked about the key to his businesses success, and whether the badge or the attitude came first in a quiet moment the owner confides “The badge was first. The great business came after.”
The goal of this story is to encourage a positive attitude and behavior, no matter what is happening with the business or personally. Being part of a successful team is the end result, your attitude is what comes first. If you’re struggling to approach everything with positivity, learn how you can overcome this in a course designed to get you back on track to your optimistic self
Get in the Frontline Yourself
Close to a battlefield over 200 years ago a rider passes a group of exhausted soldiers who were digging themselves into an important defensive position. Noticing their section leader was mounted as well, and shouting orders at the men to work faster, dig deeper and threatening to whip anyone that didn’t complete their work within the hour.
Asked by the stranger, “If this is so important why are you not helping?” The section leader advised that he is in charge, and the men must do as he says. The section leaders exact comments where, “You should help them yourself if you feel so strongly about it.”
Much to the surprise of the section leader the stranger dismounted, and worked in the trenches, side by side with the men until the job was finished. Once the work was done he congratulated the men, and approached the puzzled section leader.
“Next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men, you are to notify top command and I will provide a more permanent solution,” said the stranger, who was now up close and easily recognizable as General Washington.
This lesson is a fantastic one for supervisors and leaders that you are coaching to help them – help their own teams. The ultimate goal is to realize that you’re only a true leader if you’re willing to do the work of your team without complaint, when they need you most. This is what makes you a truly motivational leader, and you can learn more on how to be inspiring in this course.
Using these six stories as a base for motivation, you have an arsenal of themes and topics that you can use to raise your employees to additional success. The key in all of them is to be an effective communicator, which you can learn a little more about in this post.
Rewarding your teams with bonuses or overtime only ever gets you so far, once you become a storyteller and are able to get them believing in what they are working on – that’s when you truly have a motivated team.