Coaching an All-Star Staff
“An effective leader skillfully blends the first three roles but doesn’t actually have to be superhuman,” says Lynda Paulson, president of Success Strategies, Inc.
Instead, aspiring leaders and team builders need to learn how to guide employees to the path of productivity and positive attitudes by discovering their motives for working.
Although the manager has the potential to exert much influence on his staff’s behavior, he has little control over their motivation.
“Employees do what they do for their own reasons, not,” says Paulson. “Motivation comes from the inside, not the outside. We respond and react to things, but it’s an inner source that makes us respond. What a manager has to do is create an environment in which a person motivates himself.”
To develop this conducive atmosphere, the manager must first realize that just as each person is unique, each employee has different motives for action.
Human resource inventories are a useful tool for finding out what motivates each person. Paulson says this research can be as sophisticated as conducting employee profiles that determine behavioral styles, or as simple as going up to each individual and asking, “Why do you like it here?”
Paulson also suggests taking a survey that asks the employee what three things he likes most and least about his job, as well as what he thinks management can do to help him perform better and be happier with his position.
“It’s interesting what comes out” Paulson says. “Most of the time, the needs are basic ones such as, ‘I want more appreciation for the work I do’ or ‘I want to be more informed and in on things.’ In other words, employees want communication and appreciation.”
Two popular methods for understanding people’s motivations and empowering them to perform at their peak potential are: Job Results Descriptions and Success Pattern Analyses.
With Success Pattern Analyses, people think back over their lives and pinpoint various accomplishments. For each accomplishment, they recall the characteristics that helped them achieve the goal, such as determination or an unwillingness to let people down. “After you scrutinize the list, you begin to see that two or three characteristics come up again and again,” Paulson explains. “This gives people an idea of what makes them tick. It’s also very motivational. The most powerful leaders remind people of their past achievements and strengths to trigger their inner motivation.”
A goal-oriented manager uses Job Results Descriptions to assure the results he needs his team to produce.
“Employees, with input from the manager, actually develop their own strategies for obtaining the results. This process gives staff members a feeling of control and investment in their jobs,” Paulson says.
Similarly, an “open-door” policy between management and staff can further motivate people and create a harmony that otherwise maybe absent. “Be available to your employees to inspire a healthy trust,” Paulson urges. “If your office has a back door, never use it to leave. People shouldn’t have to guess whether you’re there.”
There are other ways to promote a teamwork atmosphere and to close any “us-and-them” gap that may exist between personnel and management. one method is to involve key employees in planning and decision-making. Not only does such teamwork generate more input and ideas, it also improves staff attitudes about their jobs’ Paulson says.
She also suggests involving personnel in writing the company’s operation manual and mission statement. “The more a player contributes to a team,” she points out, “the more enthusiastically he will support its efforts, and the team will have a better chance of winning.”
Peer coaching is an important element in the team effort: highly motivated, winning teams coach one another. Any type of coaching – whether it is among peers or between management and staff – should be done in a teachable, positive way rather than a “grinding” one, Paulson stresses.
Leaders should always remember to recognize and praise a job well done. Taking an outstanding performer to lunch, profiling him in the company newsletter or putting his picture on the office bulletin board are effective methods.
As the manager works to influence employee behavior through effective leadership, he also should remember that in the world of business, he who laughs, lasts. Humor and hard work can, and should, coexist, says Paulson. Ultimately, this winning combination will enhance positive employee attitudes and peak performance.
- Advertise their good performances and give them public recognition whenever possible. Do not show displeasure about their shortcomings unless they are damaging, and then always make sure this is done in private.
- Include them as much as possible in decision-making, especially where their job is concerned. Encourage them to contribute their ideas, and keep the lines of communication open both ways.
- Express appreciation to them for any task done, large or small. Coach them constructively and always with positive encouragement.
- Share as much information as possible: plans for the company. product decisions, information about the competition, etc. They like to feel in on things.
- Be available, and be a good listener. Offer your personal concern wherever possible and appropriate.
- Promise only what is certain. For example, if you cannot pay them more, say so.
- Use their names, correctly and often. Remember that a person’s name, in any language, is the sweetest sound to him.
- Exude an air of enthusiasm. Be a living example of what you want your employees to be.