thumb-456698_640Years ago, I was asked to give a keynote speech to a group of leaders in the insurance industry. The topic? Motivation. Specifically, motivating employees in tough economic times. Understand that it was 2008 when the economy was just starting to struggle, and the insurance industry (like most industries) was feeling the first real impact of the economic downturn. Understanding the need to keep their teams and associates engaged, the company hired me to help their managers and supervisors learn how to keep teams inspired and taking action despite the challenging economic times.

Now, at this point in my career, I did not speak often about the topic of motivation, and I had never spoken about it in terms of motivating individuals facing tough market conditions. So in an effort to far exceed my client’s expectations I set out to do my homework. I began by researching motivation: searching online, reading white papers and in-depth studies on the topic of motivation—specifically motivation in difficult times. At first, what I learned was not at all surprising.

There were articles on building a great incentive plan, creating healthy competition in your organization, and ideas on how to hold the perfect corporate pep rally. But for me these seemed out-of-date, and quite frankly while those strategies were nice, as a professional I did not feel they would really motivate me long term. I wanted more, I wanted to know what really moved people to take action internally, what made them take action and get up and go.

What was required of them? What external factors would have to be in place to make them want to step to the plate, take ownership and push to get results?

I went back to the drawing board, back to my research and dug deeper. What I discovered both delighted and surprised me, so much so that I was inspired to take my research even further to include interviews and focus groups made up of insurance professionals, both self-employed and those working in a corporate environment. I wanted to test the theories and ideas I’d uncovered to see how they stood up across all lines of work and positions in the insurance industry. I wanted to verify and double-check my findings.

It turned out that everything I was reading and learning on this second go round of research, while unexpected and surprising, was actually spot on. What motivated and inspired employees in tough economic times, what inspired them at a deeper and more impactful level, was not at all what I thought it would be. The ideas of competition, time off, and money were all important, but they were not what sparked or sustained motivation. Instead, it was one simple idea, a key strategy, a secret, that when consistently implemented inspired and supported internal motivation and results in a team, getting them ready to step to the plate and take action.

The secret to getting, being and staying motivated? Accountability!

Yes, as surprising and unsexy as it sounds, accountability has more to do with motivating professionals and teams to want to take action and achieve results than money, time off and competition combined. Isn’t that amazing? Accountability sits at the top of the list, only behind clarity of responsibilities, in terms of getting and keeping individuals motivated and on track. Why? Let me share.

Top 3 Reasons Accountability Matters In Motivation:

Winning Team – We all want to be a part of an organization and a team of insurance professionals that are committed to success. Winning is motivating and winning has everything to do with accountability. It is only through accountability that we ensure and can prove that we will do what it takes to be the best for our clients and for our team. You cannot succeed without making a plan, holding yourself accountable for its implementation, and learning from your failures and mistakes.

Work That Matters– Knowing that our work has value, makes a difference, and has a positive impact on both our team and our clients inspires motivation. Doing work that matters it is important, and getting feedback about how our work contributes to the overall success of the team is critical to ensuring we stay motivated and engaged. Accountability provides a system in which we can show our teams that their work is recognized, is impactful and matters. Accountability shows our team members we care.

Consequences – Want to keep motivation high during tough economic times? Set boundaries and expectations and ensure there are consequences when actions are not taken. As professionals, we are motivated when we know everyone on our team is giving their all, and when we know and feel confident that leadership will handle things if team members are under-performing. In tough economic times, we may not be able to guarantee our team’s security, but we can guarantee that through accountability we will handle team members or clients that put our success in jeopardy.

Accountability is an unexpected but powerful tool for motivation.

If you want to build a motivating culture that breeds success, invest in learning how to create a culture of accountability. Accountability is one of the most misunderstood and under-used strategies for creating successful organizations. Not only will you achieve better results by integrating accountability into your organization, you will attract and retain a more motivated group of insurance professionals to help you get there!

Motivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell, works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Click here for 3 Sure Fire Tips To Get Your Team To Instill Ownership At Every Level, To Get Profits At Every Turn! Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: a professionals guide to business and sales success. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail. https://www.meridithelliottpowell.com