26 Sep Great Leaders Make All The Difference – Part 1
Great leaders make all the difference.
In business, we see the impact of great leaders such as Tony Hsieh, who took the helm of online shoe retailer
Zappos.com from founder Nick Swinmurn. Under Hsieh’s leadership, the company grew from $1.6 million in sales in 2000 to more than $1 billion in sales in 2009.
Through many years of research, trial and error, and working with companies of all sizes in numerous industries, I have identified 16 critical ways to motivate your employees. Learn these techniques and adapt as many as possible in your business.
1. Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful.
A recent survey by BNET (which is now part of CBS MoneyWatch) asked the question, “What motivates you at work?”
The results showed that doing something meaningful is more important than money or recognition to your employees. Twenty nine percent of respondents said that doing something meaningful was the most motivating thing about work. Money motivated 25 percent, and recognition 17 percent.
Therefore, the number one way to motivate your employees is to make them feel that they are doing something meaningful. Now, if your vision is to alleviate poverty, as Kiva’s is, getting your employees to feel like they are doing something meaningful is pretty easy. This might not seem quite as simple for the typical for-profit company. But this, too, is relatively straightforward. Establishing your company’s vision and goals—particularly involving your employees in creating them—will motivate them to achieve these objectives and help them feel that they are doing something meaningful.
2. Effectively communicate and share information.
You also must consistently share new information to ensure that your employees make good decisions.
You must always let employees know how the organization is progressing toward achieving goals. Setting KPIs and posting the associated KPI results monthly will allow you to achieve this.
3. Give employees clear job descriptions and accountability.
It is critical that you give each of your employees clear job descriptions and accountability. It’s not enough to just state each role’s responsibilities; rather, you must specify the expected results and tasks. For example, the customer service manager’s described role might be to handle all inbound customer service calls. Their expected results, however, might be to answer all calls within 15 seconds or less, resulting in 90 percent customer satisfaction in telephone follow-up service. Only by specifying roles and expected results and accountability can you get what you want from each employee.
4. Give and receive ongoing performance feedback.
When things do go wrong, don’t blame. You want to replace who questions with how questions. For example, rather than saying, “Who screwed this up?” say, “How could we improve this process or avoid this in the future?”
5. Have—and show—faith and trust in your team.
Most humans have relatively fragile self-esteem. If you don’t believe your employees can do something, they won’t believe they can either, and they won’t do it. You must have faith in them. You can’t just say you have faith: you need to show you do to enhance their confidence in their ability.
To achieve this, give your employees some autonomy to make decisions. Let them take ownership of challenging projects and decide how to complete them. Although it can be a challenge for almost any manager, you must let them fail sometimes and not get angry about it.
6. Listen to, focus on, and respect your employees’ needs.
You’ve likely heard this before, but it’s worth repeating that in leadership, listening is more important than speaking. I love this quote: “Questions unite. Answers divide.” Asking questions of your team will get them to participate; dictating the answers will cause them to tune out.
7. Provide recognition to worthy employees.
Recognition is an amazing motivator. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton authored a book called The Carrot Principle in which they discuss a study of more than 200,000 employees that they conducted over a 10-year period. The study showed that the most successful managers provided their employees with frequent and effective recognition. In fact, they found that managers realized significantly better business results when they offered employees recognition in the form of constructive praise rather than monetary rewards.
To be continued…