Three Memorable, Easy, Lasting Ways to Inspire Your Team

In this economy, keeping your team motivated can be difficult– with everything from travel to office supply budgets being slashed how can you ensure you keep your team working to their full potential? Following are three suggestions that don’t necessitate scratching around for additional funds. Additionally, each of these tools does more than motivate those involved: ideally they’re inspired by them. Because, let’s face it, too often motivation is like a cup of coffee: it wears off over time. Inspiration, however, provides your team with ideas and tactics that can be used as fuel for years to come.

“Tell me more.”

We often approach our goals with our minds already made up about our desired outcomes. The tricky thing about this is that it doesn’t leave room for our team to contribute-and when there’s no room for them to contribute, they lose motivation. How, then, can you ensure you offer them the input-opportunity they require, but still stay on track? With the magic phrase, “Tell me more.” The beauty of “Tell me more,” is that it doesn’t commit you to actually incorporating each suggestion you receive. It does, however, give each speaker a platform for offering an opinion. If you like their idea, then, excellent! You can incorporate it. If not, look for a piece of their idea that can be included.

How do I recommend you finesse this? With the phrase, “I think there’s some strong DNA in your thinking— let’s take a piece of it and add it to what we’ve got.”

If it isn’t possible to incorporate their contribution, “Tell me more,” is also a great path to a conversation about the “because” behind some of your choices-and giving people the “because” behind why something is being done increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94%. (Social Psychologist Ellen Langer Study).

Mix and Match Your Experts

In sports we idolize the players who know how to leverage time and room (T& R) whether it be in basketball, football, lacrosse. In life, however, we rarely give the same kudos to the unsung heroes whose expertise offers us the time and room we need to maneuver when we go in to make our pitch, sell our product, or ask for the deal: our teammates in Research and Development (R & D). With this in mind, I strongly recommend glorifying your R & D members whenever possible.  What’s another way to motivate? Create an occasion for Research and Development to mix with Sales and Marketing, as you may be surprised by what might comes out of such an encounter.  Why? Well, Sales and Marketing tend to focus on “listening to the customer”, but as Henry Ford once said, if he had listened to the customer he would simply built better horse carriages! It was R & D that showed him cars were the way of the future.

Mixing, matching, and cheering on your teams builds the camaraderie that will give all of you the time and room you need to relax and celebrate when you win the contract, make the deal, or take home the honors.

Operation Inspiration

While many of us have the tendency to flip past the five o’clock news, preferring our favorite talking head on CNN, MSNBC, Fox etc, one thing we can take away (that’s shared by NASA, the US Military, etc) is the tendency to give special projects special names. Why do they do this?  Well one of the roles of a leader is to narrate the macro events in our lives, thus making sense of them. What these institutions recognized is that there’s a significant difference between hearing, “Today’s conflict was marked by casualties in “Operation GT7, Sector Four,”” and “Today’s conflict was marked by casualties in Operation “Enduring Freedom””.

History’s best leaders have always been storytellers, and the valorization of unavoidable hardship will always be stirring. Shakespeare himself recognized this as he showed us in Henry V when Henry’s comrades are reminded they are, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” Henry V video on youtube.com. Despite being exhausted and outnumbered, Henry’s men rode into battle gladly having been told they would consequently, and forevermore, be remembered by the rest of the world– and we do.

Your team can do the same, and-with your inclusion of their ideas, acknowledgement of their hard work, and celebration of their willingness to ‘take one for the team’ -they will.

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