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Positive Motivation in a Difficult Economy

01/20/2009 – Kim Follis, CPC, CTS, Vice President

Positive Motivation in a Difficult Economy

The New Year has begun, and many people have set new goals for themselves and their businesses. Unfortunately, the news and media continue to tell us how difficult the economy is going to be in 2009.

Employers are expecting their teams to be energetic and loyal; however, the reality is that they are scared. The messages they receive from the media, and the reality of companies down-sizing leaves many with a sense of insecurity and fear.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that each company strive towards maximizing resources and increasing productivity. This is impossible without a genuine commitment and positive attitude from each member of a team.

But how can companies achieve this haven of enthusiasm and excellence within an unstable economic environment? We believe employers should look for ways to strengthen the motivation level and address this issue head on.

Imagine your office as a stadium where the game of business is played everyday. The winners can include clients, co-workers, as well as the profits of the company.

Now imagine the owners and executives as coaches, to build on this sports team analogy. A coach owns the burden of victory, but must lead his/her team effectively in order to achieve it. The coach cannot do it alone.

When possible, it is helpful to implement strategies that can offer concrete measures of security. Employers can implement various incentive plans, Goal and Business Strategy partnerships, Employee Recognition Programs and practicing candid 360 communication techniques.

But one of the least-costly and maybe most effective ways a coach and employer can drive towards winning is with positive motivation. Employees work hard for companies where they feel encouraged, challenged and energized about what they do. Creating an environment that not only motivates but has a true measurement of success can be achieved by implementing the following sports/business tactics:

  • Motivational Coaching Moments: Leadership is about leading others to greatness and giving them the tools they need to be a producer. Not only showing them the way, but being there through thick and thin will create loyalty and pride in who they are and what they do. Each player brings different talents to the game, and the coach is responsible to put the players in the position that will capitalize on the strengths with the biggest impact on the company.
  • Goals with Deadlines and Keeping Score: Treat each quarter of the year like a quarter of a game - assess the "score" by which goals have been reached. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Each goal insight helps the team move toward what needs to be accomplished. By keeping score, employees can definitively know how they did compared to the expectation. Feedback and quantitative numbers are benchmarks to success and track employees progress.
  • Making Fans: Nothing makes one feel better than an unsolicited recommendation or Letter of Reference. Creating a Scrapbook or Wall of Fame enables others to read what an impact various company players have done to make a difference.
  • Review past plays: History teaches us what has and has not worked, as well as provides insightful details to the market place. We have been in a recession before, and I am sure that we will be again. Reviewing various techniques and strategies can catapult solution-based thinking when others are wallowing in the problem.
  • Be Clear on the Rules: As with the Coaches and Referees, Executive Team members are charged with the rules of engagement and due diligence to provide Operational excellence to their clients, co-workers, and service partners. By providing the game rules, players know what they are to accomplish, what they are responsible for, and how they will be measured. To win the game, open communication along with specific directives are necessary for the team.
  • Healthy Competition: Bottom line, everyone loves to win! Healthy competition drives the motivational process and can define success. Knowing what was accomplished by others that are respected in the field, can provide a standard for defining a winner.
  • Overall Inspiring Atmosphere: Some employees or players perform better with positive encouragement. "A" pat on the back or verbal and non-verbal recognition for a job well done can go a long way. Creating What a WOW! programs enable employees to recognize themselves and others for doing a great job. Sometimes posters or motivational sayings boost team spirit, create energy, and inspire action.
  • Celebration: A group gathering to celebrate both large and small successes sends a message of team work and recognition. Ice cream parties or bowling outings can develop not only professional but personal relationships as well. Continued bonding experiences communicate a message of unity and thanksgiving that have proven to bring teams together and produce more effective results.

As mentioned before, we all like to win, yet more importantly we want to know that we played a good game, gave it our all, and had a GREAT TIME. With the Super Bowl around the corner, create your own championship team and raise the motivation and the productivity in 2009.

Kim Follis
Vice President