1. Stop demotivating people!
A research study published in Harvard Management Update (January 2006) showed that the majority of employees are very motivated when they start out and after less than a year, motivation drops dramatically. The main reason cited? The management style and overall behaviour of their managers. So as a business leader your job is not to motivate anyone - this is an intrinsic drive individual to each person. All you have to do is make sure you are not demotivating them. So here are some thoughts...
- Set a purpose which inspires people and goes beyond profit and making money
- View your employees as a group of customers
- Tell your employees what they "want" to know not just what they "need" to know
- Address poor performance - there is nothing more demotivating to someone working their pants off than a colleague who does nothing and gets away with it!
- Recognise people for a job well done - praise does not breed complacency it re-inforces success.
Involve people in defining the sort of business or team they want to be and the targets they want to set for themselves. Focus on outcomes that are essential to meeting your inspiring business purpose and make sure everyone is clear on what these are. Understanding the level of performance required gives people a sense of achievement when they meet it.
Set specific goals in 90-day increments - this enables you to monitor progress and experience wins on a routine basis.
Share, share and share. You can't overcommunicate your expectations.
3. Define repeatable models
Whether looking at your sales and marketing strategy or your core business model, defining repeatable processes which people can understand and work to will improve performance. Many people shy away from processes fearing that these will kill creativity, constrain people and drown the organisation in bureaucracy. Indeed this will happen when the process becomes the end point rather than a clearly defined structure for doing what works best, and when you don't involve people in defining how they do it best.
Think about it. If you have a sales person who consistently over achieves his sales targets by 25%, would you not want to understand how he does this and get others to follow the repeatable steps?An effective process improves each individual’s performance by establishing a common base of best practice for everyone. It also enables greater visibility of activities that work and don’t work and how people are delivering against expectations.
4. Train people
Whenever I work with organisations who want to improve performance I ask the same questions - Do you know what skills and competencies are needed to meet your business purpose? Do your people have the skills, knowledge and competencies to achieve your business purpose? For many the answer is well...not really.
Many organisations don't understand the nature or purpose of training. There is a plethora of research supporting the ROI of training. A US Department of Education survey in 2003 showed very interesting results - increasing an individual’s educational level by 10% increased productivity by 8.6%; increasing an individual’s work hours by 10% increased productivity by 6.0%; and increasing capital stock by 10% increased productivity by 3.2%
Training should be used to enable people to obtain new skills and knowledge, re-enforce existing skills and knowledge, be aligned to the business purpose and be measured.
5. Build resilience through Coaching
Consider ongoing coaching to drive performance. External coaches are often used by high performance organisations to help embed behaviours and attitudes over time. There are various individual and group coaching solutions available which can help to achieve the desired skills and competencies for high performing teams.
Coaching can help push people beyond their limits, expand skills, build confidence, maintain focus and address the real barriers to achievement - e.g. limiting beliefs, motivation and commitment. Coaching enables a person to review what works and what doesn't work for them. When it comes to world-class performance, resilience and self-discipline are just as important as mastery of the technical skills in question.