Two weeks in the sun, fun times with family and a slow start to the first month of the year – it’s no surprise that a percentage of employees may lack the motivation to give 100 per cent after a Christmas break. As a result, many business leaders may be feeling a dip in performance at a time when they’re looking to jump feet first into the new year.
Kristie Buchanan, CEO of online experience retailer RedBalloon, shares her list of employer dos and don’ts for driving team performance at the start of the year (see below).
An organisation well-known for employee motivation, RedBalloon has listed in the top 50 BRW Great Places to Work for five consecutive years. The retailer even has an arm, Recognise Every Day (RED), dedicated to educating other businesses on how to engage employees effectively and linking that engagement to business outcomes.
Kristie says: “Good business performance derives from how inspired a team is to achieve success, and it takes more than a few sporadic words of encouragement to get there.
“Now is the time for business owners to be thinking about how they can develop a motivational plan that will inspire throughout 2015. This plan should see professional relationships developed, contributions recognised regularly, and leaders proactively getting to know what will make their team tick. These simple but effective habits can help keep employee motivation alive and individuals thriving,” says Kristie.
1. Don’t leave strategy and vision to the CEO. If you want to succeed and bring others with you, it doesn’t matter where you sit in the organisation’s food chain. Take time to understand and contribute to the company’s strategy, mission and values. Work out how you and your team’s work fits into the big game plan. You can’t motivate yourself or others if you don’t even know why you’re here.
2. Do use your team meetings as opportunities to connect your work to something bigger. Purpose is a huge intrinsic motivator, so talk about how your work relates to big picture goals regularly. Constantly aligning your team’s work to a larger mission allows individuals to recognise how they can contribute to, and participate in, the success of the business. It also allows you to provide context about the purpose and design of roles and projects, and enables staff to prioritise their work according to what adds the most value.
3. Don’t dismiss the importance of a one-on-one catch up with your team members. Your days are so full so you consistently reschedule or cancel 1:1 meetings with your direct reports (or worse, you never even had them in your calendar) and, as a result, you rarely see your team. You tell yourself they understand you’re busy, and since they haven’t asked, they don’t need your help. Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to stop.
4. Do prioritise your people. Your people are the engine of your organisation. No matter how much fuel your customers push through in the form of cash flow, if your engine is in dud condition, your business isn’t going anywhere. Take care of your engine: put your people first.
5. Don’t criticise your staff more often than you thank them. Gratitude is easy and free. If you want high performing, motivated employees the last-century leadership style that tells you not to recognise employees for work they’re already being paid to do needs to go. Never let your negative comments outnumber the genuine compliments you give.
6. Do give recognition when it’s due. Positive feedback is an exceptional intrinsic motivator: recognising work gives people a sense of pride. Consciously recognising and rewarding good performance is a worthwhile investment. If this is all new to you, start by proactively finding two or three things to say “thank you” for during your 1:1 meetings. Formalising a recognition and reward program will also give you a process of evaluating staff that is transparent and efficient. It shows employees that your gratitude is genuine, and that their contributions add financial value to the company.
7. Don’t ignore who your employees are outside of work. If you want dedicated employees who go above and beyond to get a job done, then respect that there is more to them than their job title. Your people have lives and responsibilities outside their 9-5 call of duty, and they will be more motivated and empowered to give 100% to their work if you let them bring their whole self to work, instead of having to leave behind 50% of their personality before they enter the office.
8. Do make it your mission to know how to get your staff performing at their best. A cost-free way to determine what motivates your staff is to get to know more about them. Investigate their strengths and weaknesses. What do they invest their time in outside work? Do they have a family, or interests that this job is helping to support? Are they creative? Are they analytical? Find out what areas they require training or support. Use this knowledge to plan ahead and create practical pathways to contribute to their professional success.