The importance of motivating employees

Inspiring and engaging employees

Disengaged employees are one of the biggest threats facing British business. The key to turning things around and getting 2013 off on the right foot is to face up to these problems, rather than brushing them under the carpet. 

In the first instance, business leaders should aim to communicate a vision that forces employees to think beyond the current downturn and that will excite and inspire them about the future. Mid-level management needs to take more responsibility for engaging with their teams and take an interest in their health and well-being. 

Listening to staff and encouraging their feedback is crucial to identifying small niggles before they become big problems, and gives managers a much better idea of what keeps them coming in every day. Recognising and rewarding enthusiasm is also hugely motivating for most people, while setting clear goals means that every team member knows where their business is going and why. 

Clear communication is critically important. It sounds easy to get right, but it’s not -particularly when things are busy and teams are under pressure. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the numbers and forget about understanding the people involved in a project – motivation is very much about understanding that people are individuals. Simple steps such as briefing people in person or over the phone, rather than sending hurried emails, can make a real difference.

Looking to the future

The CEBR suggests that GDP growth in the final quarter of this financial year is likely to be negative, so businesses are looking at a slow start to 2013/20141. At a time when they’re still striving to do more with less, they need the full support of their employees, which means they need to address as a priority the issues identified by Mindjet.

Businesses of all sizes need to look at how they can harness the passion revealed by this research. In tougher times, people management can seem like less of a priority but it’s essential to keep your workforce engaged. 

It’s hard to find good people, so when you do, you’ve got to look after them. For those in a management position it’s important to remember that part of the role is to translate the CEO’s business goals and ideas into action. It’s not enough to direct down and expect people to deliver. You need to collaborate, communicate and innovate; even if it means looking at new ways of doing things and embracing change. 

It’s only by embracing change, inspiring employees and giving them the tools they need to work smarter that the UK will be able to achieve clear business success.

Professor Nelson Phillips is chair in Strategy and Organisational Behaviour at Imperial College London.

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