Every mentally/emotionally healthy human being has a spark within them. But that spark’s intensity varies for lots of reasons. The fire burns brighter in good times, when we are happier. The flame can diminish to just an ember when times are challenging or our resilience is down. That’s life. But the spark is always there to be rekindled.
Lots of people, including your team members may have yet to learn how to fan their own flame; that’s still not widely taught. If you are reading this piece, you are in a great position to inspire increased interest in those around you. But first of course you personally need to have a higher degree of energy, passion if you will, for the work you’ve chosen to do.
Let’s talk about a few additional factors about energizing your workforce before expanding on some key specific energy-boosting subject areas. First, think about the internal spark, large or small about any given task or topic, as being the motivational drive from within. You therefore can’t “motivate” anyone as that is an internal job. What you can do is inspire or invite others to get in touch with their own innate interest. In order to meet your staff where they are before leading them to where you want them to be, you need to understand them. Studying their behavior style or personality type through a four quadrant models or the more complex Myers Briggs indicator is a good start. Raising your emotional intelligence (EQ) of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and managing relationships will help you to tune into team members and also model these skills and insights for their own usage.
With these foundational pieces strengthened, you can be more adept at using the following tools:
Empathize – Empathy is relating to others, particularly other’s emotional states. Empathizing is especially related to another’s problem areas. Let’s be honest; lots of managers are task oriented to the exclusion of accepting that like it or not, we are always in a state of some emotion. That is a bio-chemical truth. Not allowing for people’s emotions is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. It is simply counterproductive.
So what does empathy have to do with inviting out the fire within someone? Well, until you uncover what is blocking the interest in participating fully, the enthusiasm level will remain low. Work to uncover the things that are dampening enthusiasm. Find ways of relating to these concern areas. You don’t have to agree with nor even understand what is going on for someone to empathize with their circumstances. You just need to know that these exist and accept that the condition(s) is true for them. When you actively empathize, the other realizes they are not alone in this and you become an ally. That is a powerful place to begin in turning retarded positive attitude around.
Inspire – As we said at the start, everyone has a spark within. The truth is that we have many, many sparks or varying places of interest. A team member’s particular set of interests is what makes each and every one of them unique. That is both the challenge and opportunity. There are lots of ways to gain the information about what lights up anyone’s interest level. For the sake of this brief article, I will offer just one approach. You have limited time, resource and energy while your team members have the answers to the question of what interests them. So stop guessing. Ask them directly. And when you ask, steer them toward pathways to added internal motivation that you can actually offer in support.
The following is a list of motivational areas that can be of interest to your employees. My suggestion is that you copy and paste only the areas over which you have control (budget, resource etc.) Create your own doable list and give it to your team members, letting them pick and choose the ones that agree with them. Guessing is over as they tell you what jazzes them.
The List: Comfort/Relaxation, Health/Balance/Energy, Influence/Leadership, Learning/Knowledge/Discovery, Materials/Possessions, Recognition/Praise, Security/Money/Home, Social/Affiliation/Popularity/Acceptance, Status/Prestige/Stand Out/Reputation, Task Accomplishment/Problem Solving/Achievement and Teaching/Guiding Others
Once you find the topic areas that light up any individual player, you can come up with myriad specific strategies to fulfill that motivating topic.
Delegate – Delegation and the motivator checklist above can go hand in hand. While there are lots of do’s and don’ts about delegating best left for another article, let’s focus here on the benefits to the employee. For best energizing effects, you need to match things you can delegate with what the employee will want to do (otherwise it will be demotivating/de-energizing). What long term tasks (along with the authority and resources to support their success) can you assign that will fulfill some of the areas captured in the motivator check-list? Have an exploratory conversation with your team member (don’t ever assume you are guessing right). Since you are ultimately responsible for the work they do, it just makes sense that you are in harmony with each other. Win-Win equals higher energy!
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