• Susanne Birgersdotter

A lot of new entrants to the world of entrepreneurship didn’t realize the importance of motivational skills and that inspiring and motivating people are part and parcel of running a business. When I was planning on my first company, motivating people was the farthest from my mind. I was more focused on the business side of things – getting the funding, building the team, and perfecting the product. I didn’t see any value-adding elements to learning or practicing my motivational skills. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Motivating and inspiring people are by-products of leadership. You can’t be a good leader if you cannot inspire and motivate your team. It is one thing to put together a great team of talented, skilled, and hardworking people. Keeping them inspired and motivated is another. Motivated people are more productive, committed, and pro-active. They will work harder, deliver more than what is expected of them, and take the company’s interests to heart. Not everyone is a born motivator. But anyone can learn the art of inspiring, empowering, and motivating people. Here are some ways you can start upgrading your leadership skills;

Lead by Example – A deviation of your actions from your spoken message is a great motivational taboo. You can preach one thing and do another. People will see it not only as an inconsistency but also as dishonesty in your part. On the contrary, you do not need to constantly remind or prove your statements when they can already see you practicing what you preach.

Stay in the Positive – Always project a positive attitude. It will not serve you, your team, and your company any good if you’re always looking at the empty half of the glass. Optimism and maintaining a positive attitude will help foster the same amongst your team and will carry you through tough times. Focusing on the positive values and inputs of each member will make them feel valued, appreciated and an important aspect of the company.

Maintain Open Communication – There should be an open line of communication between you and your team. Everyone in the company should have a way of connecting with you, a trusted channel where they can speak without fear or inhibitions. Being heard and listened to is a powerful motivating tool. An open line of communication will also encourage everyone in the company to come forward with their ideas and suggestions.

Praise in Public, Reprimand in Private – Although some prefer to be away from the spotlight, public praises are proven to motivate employees – the achiever and the rest of the team, to do better and work harder on their goals. And if you must call out someone for any misstep or provide corrections and guidance, do it in private and with the relevant people only. Public shaming will not serve anybody any good.

Encourage Teamwork – Support and foster the team spirit. Teamwork facilitates collaboration and promotes a convivial workplace where everyone is happy, motivated, and productive. Establishing group goals will encourage employees to work together, contribute to the effort, and getting more engaged. This initiative will effectively remove the feeling of isolation among employees and eliminate any room for nasty competition to arise within the company.

Provide Relevant Goals – When we start our company, we leaders will craft a vision and goals for its future. We list how we see ourselves and the company in the future and we share it with the employees as a way of letting them in on the mission. Make it more relevant and motivating by including the WIIFM – “what’s in it for me” factor. If the company’s vision is national operations, how will this impact the employee? A bigger pay? Travel opportunities? Promotion?

Establish Clear Expectations – This follows the results-oriented motivation technique. Give them your expectations and let them have freedom on how to achieve and deliver. Do not say “I want you to improve the production numbers.” Say, “Let’s cut down the production cost by 20% within the next six months.” By providing them with clear objectives and the autonomy of the process, you are encouraging their creativity and initiative.

Empower your Team – Give your team members the opportunity to operate at their own terms within the boundaries of company ethics and the common good. Giving them control, the authority to decide, and responsibilities will greatly improve their engagement, commitment, and productivity. Leadership is not always about leading people; it is empowering the best people for the job and enabling them to do their job the best the way they could.