How do I inspire my team to do more next year?
As we enter into next year we’re all focused on achieving more. But how are we going to do that? The way to achieve all of your goals is to be relentless about helping others grow. Managers must be totally driven to help individuals and teams be better, and they must lead through inspiration. The most effective leaders win hearts as well as minds.
These are the tools I use to lead through encouragement:
1. Focus on delivering on the answer to this question: “What does astonishing success look like, and what would be an amazing outcome for next year?” People are capable of doing unbelievable things, but you need to help unleash that. Here’s how:
- Engage in objective setting at the beginning of a project or quarter: Work with teams and individuals on establishing what they are going to achieve—and determine what’s most important to do first. Ask, “What trumps what?”
- Set aggressive goals: Have big goals and establish a grading system that recognizes the difficulty of the outcome you are trying to achieve. Have stretch goals and reward the team appropriately. If they reach 80%, reward them; that’s 100% performance.
- Ask more questions: In my earlier days managing, I used to tell people what to do. Now, I try to inspire them with what we should do rather than tasking them to do it. I ask questions so they can figure it out and it becomes their idea. I often ask: “How do you think about this?” “Is this doable?” “What’s holding you back?” “Have you thought about this?” It’s much more rewarding to orchestrate a masterpiece than assign them to paint by the numbers—and the results speak for themselves.
2. Offer consistent communication and feedback.
- Coach constantly: Spend more time validating, cheerleading and mentoring. Praise in public, but coach and critique in private. Never make someone feel bad in front of his or her peers.
- Maintain alignment through 1:1s: Once we know what success looks like, I encourage people to share problems early. That enables me to help solve them while I still can. No one wants to hear about issues by the time they’ve festered and are too late to fix. I end every 1:1 with some questions: “What else do you need from me? What can I do to help you?”
- Hold up the mirror: When something doesn’t go according to plan, don’t tell people what they did wrong, ask them to reflect on the situation for themselves. “Look in mirror, what do you see? What do you think? How do you see it?” Make it 360-degrees: “What do you think your peers, customers, and employees see?”
- Address accountability: Demand high standards and do everything you can to help people meet them. Mediocrity doesn’t inspire anyone. Work with team members to help make them better, but if they don’t learn from their mistakes or don’t live up to their potential, understand that you have to let them go. Always approach this in a humane and caring way.