Halloween’s gone, but there’s still plenty of trepidation in the workplace. Slips in productivity may have managers snipping, with the rest of the staff covering their moves, just in case . . . of layoffs. Service, morale, basic performance may be suffering, yet, how do you get beyond the anxiety, uncertainty and missteps to the reality of keeping the business profitable?
There is a fundamental change occurring in organizations today. It is a critical wake up call that many of the traditional methods of motivating employees through directing, forcing and demanding are no longer working. Tantamount to this is a change away from the old approach that seeks to raise levels of performance through the use of carrots and sticks — that no longer get results —to leading the business by deliberately looking to people’s stores of yet-to-be-harnessed energy. People motivation and the decisive application of their talent represent one of the most powerful yet overlooked frontiers of business.
Remember those bright people who were so engaging in their interviews? Re-igniting their spark will help uncover the potential you saw when you hired them. Many people though are overstressed and their talents lie sleeping, hiding or are just simply withdrawn’ from daily work life engagement. The standard ‘putting up with’ attempts to extract results must be replaced with generating sincere, meaningful change through refocused personal and collective contribution. The key is learning how to stop dancing around people’s behavior and to begin tapping the energy beneath it.
If you desire to power up productivity in down times, then work at creating opportunities which help the staff to step back, reflect and thoughtfully engage on timely business issues. Venues can be as elaborate as an off-site retreat, as simple as time spent in the conference room, or as powerful as establishing alignment around common direction. Afford people the time and space to feel safe to think, speak and purposefully interact with one another. This sense of safety is essential to bringing forth the ideas that will infuse your business. Next get folks to attend to both their regular operational tasks — the daily working IN the business — and the oft missed but immensely important practice of organizational improvement — the working ON the business — through breakthrough professional development, team learning, and process improvement.
As management and staff collectively practice these approaches, fresh ideas, renewed relationships, and rekindled commitment emerge which generates tremendous personal growth, team strength and superior organizational performance.
Eric Smith is President of TeamWorks International, a management consulting firm, headquartered in California. TeamWorks is nationally recognized for its leadership development and team-based productivity initiatives.