On a previous blog post, our neuroscience for leadership specialist Dr Maryam Bigdeli spoke about the need for organisations to move beyond the carrot and the stick principle in their approach to performance management.

Maryam explained that the problem with such systems is that the fear of the ‘stick’ can easily override the rewarding pleasure of the ‘carrot’. As a result, employees can become anxious about their performance, and may avoid collaborating with others.

But if you are not going to base performance management completely on ‘carrot and stick’ systems of control and reward focused on individual performance, how else are you going to motivate your team to achieve better results?

Inspiration – The Key Ingredient

At LDL we think that beyond the ‘carrot and the stick’ principle there is a far more powerful mechanism that you can bring into play to motivate your people – and that is the ability to inspire.

As Harvard Professor John Kotter puts it, “Inspiration energizes people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do, but by satisfying basic human needs, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.” (On What Leaders Really Do)

If the carrot and the stick is a basic feature of management, inspiration is a fundamental feature of leadership. Because being an effective manager is not just about ‘managing’ people according to objective systems of control and reward. It’s also about leading people, and that involves communicating that you believe in, value and care about them.

In the video below John Kotter explains why management and leadership are both essential, but that the importance of leadership often gets overlooked:

To get you thinking about how you can lead your team more effectively, we have provided five tips from our leadership and management training courses. Enjoy!

How to Inspire Your Team – 5 Tips

1. Treat people well.

It’s common sense but not common practice – engaged staff produce engaged customers. Customer relations always begin with employee relations. The way you treat your staff affects your business more than any other variable.

As FedEx co-founder and leadership training specialist Frank Maguire says, “Your staff can get the same pay, same benefits and same working conditions somewhere else. Maybe better. But what they can’t replace is their relationship with you.”

2. Start with your reasons when delegating.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Jesse Sostrin advised managers to start with their reasons when delegating:

“When people lack understanding about why something matters and how they fit into it, they are less likely to care. But if you give them context about what’s at stake, how they fit into the big picture, and what’s unique about the opportunity, then you increase personal relevance and the odds of follow-through.”

So tie what you are asking an employee to do into a bigger picture. And don’t be afraid to get excited about it! As Sostrin explains: “You can’t motivate somebody to care when you can’t express the reasons why it matters to you, so this essential step sets the table for effective partnering.”

3. Set aspirational goals.

So it’s important for you to give your reasons when delegating. But to really encourage and inspire your people, you should seek to tie the performance of your team members into their reasons for working and coming into the office each day. What are their ambitions and aspirations?

Encourage them to think about what they want to achieve, and try to help them tie their personal goals to the goals of the organisation.

4. Give your people the chance to be creative.

People feel more inspired when they are given the opportunity to be creative. So give people the freedom to make some of the decisions and express themselves creatively. Encourage collaborative problem solving, ask the team for feedback and listen closely to their responses. People enjoy tasks in the optimal zone: not too hard and not too easy.

When you delegate a task, explain WHAT you want done, WHY you want it done (see above) and BY WHEN, but let them work out the ‘HOW’. That’s the difference between good and bad delegation. What decisions could you devolve to your people?

5. Catch people doing something right, or nearly right.

Part of every manager’s job is to highlight what is unsatisfactory and help people to fix it. But feedback must be fair. If the only news we get is bad news, we have trouble believing that any aspect of what we do is acceptable.

So catch people doing something right, or almost right. It builds confidence. This is especially important when someone is new or learning a new job. Offer a word of praise, or a compliment appropriate to the task.

As former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said, “Building confidence in others is a huge part of leadership”.

LDL Leadership & Management Training

To find out more about LDL’s approach to leadership and management training visit the management training page of our website, or explore more articles on the LDL blog.

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