How to inspire your workforce » SMEInsider

How to inspire your workforce

Speeches, “team bonding” sessions and even day-to-day pep talks can quickly feel cringeworthy, especially to British sensibilities. To make sure that you’re really engaging and inspiring your staff, take a look at these eight tips.

1. Be genuine. It’s important that you really believe in what you’re saying. If it doesn’t ring true for you, it certainly won’t for your employees. As business psychologist Dr Hamira Riaz says: “It is all about authenticity. It has got to be real otherwise the person on the receiving end is going to feel that it is fake. We can all tell when someone is following a script. We see that in politics. The politicians who are increasingly connecting to the public are the ones that are real – whether good, bad or ugly – and the ones that are failing to communicate are the ones that are heavily airbrushed and scripted.”

2. Give them a reason to care. Like any form of marketing, you need to explain to the other person what’s in it for them. Just focussing on the benefits to you, as a company owner, won’t get you far. As Rachel Bridge says: “The secret to really inspiring someone is showing them how they can make more of their own lives and in the process be more of the person they would like to be – not how much they can contribute to the business.”

3. Be energetic. Your workforce is hardly going to be energetic, hardworking and passionate about what they are doing if you’re not showing all of these traits, too. So long as it really is genuine, enthusiasm is contagious – as Dr Brian Baxter, a business psychologist, says: “If you show energy then you will get energy back. The energyless leader inspires nobody. When you do something, do it brilliantly and exceptionally, and others will admire you and want to follow that.”

4. Give them the practical tools. There’s no use getting people all fired up on an idea, only for them to be disappointed when they can’t achieve their goals due to a lack of skills or knowledge. Creating opportunities to learn a new skill or to master an IT programme sends out the message that you willing to invest in your workforce and will make them feel far more involved and responsible for making things happen.

5. Create a workable plan. Feeling like goals are achievable is essential to any project. What is the ultimate aim? What do you really want your team to help you achieve? What challenges are they likely to run up against? Share your vision and your timescales with your team – otherwise, how will they have a clue what they are supposed to be doing, and why?

6. Give them something they can do right now. Although a long view essential, you need to make sure you’ve got something to start on straight away so that your ideas don’t keep floating around somewhere in the future. This could be something as simple as improving the way you manage time or handle angry customers that will see improvements in the office straight away, or it could be the first small step of a long term project. Just make sure it can be put into practice immediately.

7. Ditch the happy clappy stuff. Telling people to be amazing or excited or the best they can be without telling them how or why is infuriating and will send an intelligent employee’s BS radars into instant overdrive. Treat your workforce like adults, or their indifference will be the least of your worries.

8. Make it a running theme.  It’s not enough to drop in a few seeds of encouragement or an effort to inspire now and again and just hope they take root. There are many competing priorities and distractions in a workplace that will quickly take precedence, so make sure that you regularly revisit progress, looking at what has been achieved and what is still to be done. Your vision needs to be part of your everyday workplace narrative, not something you shoehorn into a company briefing once a year!