How To Tap Their Internal Motivation
This weekend my husband and I almost bit off more than we could chew. Avid cyclists, we decided to ride the Tour de Cashiers, an annual cycling event held in the mountains of Western North Carolina. As I said, we are avid cyclists, so it is pretty common for us when we enter cycling events to ride the fifty or sixty mile routes, and consider them to be no big deal.
That attitude is where the trouble began! While we are prone to ride sixty miles, those sixty miles usually include elevation gains of 4000 or 5000 feet. This ride, however, had elevation gains of 8000 feet. To say the least, the route was going to be rough.
But hey we were up to the challenge, and were doing great with more than 40 miles into the ride with most of the elevation gain behind us. When riding in an event like this, much like a marathon I assume, you follow the road markings and the signs to ensure you stay on the route. The event organizers do a great job of getting out early, marking the roads and giving cyclists easy signs to follow so usually all you have to do is pay attention. Believe me, the last thing you want to do is take a wrong turn or get lost, because you will do more mileage than the already strenuous route you have laid out for you. No one wants to do that.
So there we were rolling down through the most beautiful valley when we hit a fork in the road and no sign or road mark as to whether we were to go right or left. We looked all over the place, and for some reason this was the one intersection the usually diligent ride organizers had missed. After a lot of discussion and going back and forth for about ten minutes, my husband and I made the decision to stay left as the right fork seemed, as best we could guess, that, to us, it was the wrong direction.
Still, without a clear message, assurance we were right, or any vision of where we were headed, I could feel my anxiety set in. It was crazy to me, but the moment I was not sure of where I was going, I could just feel myself not riding with the same enjoyment, energy, or most importantly power that I had been riding with just ten minutes earlier. Feeling a little lost and confused, I was unsure if my peddling was getting me where I needed to go, and that made me not want to peddle. Sure I was still moving, but not nearly at the same level or with the same enthusiasm I had been just moments before. How could I truly engage in a task when I was nervous about the direction I was headed?
That is when it hit me: is this what our teams feel like when we do not provide them with direction and focus? When we send them out to perform their jobs or work their day without any clear direction of where our business is headed, what our goals are or what their role is in the process? If it is, if they feel even a half of what I felt in lack of motivation, we are losing a tremendous amount of energy and efficiency simply because we are not providing our team with direction, and a clear understanding of how they can, and how they already do, contribute.Of course they are literally unable to engage in their business relationships, and in the company, when they do not know where they are headed or what the end goal is supposed to be!
Setting goals and creating a vision may sound like business 101, but it is surprising how rarely companies stop and create a plan for where their organization is headed. Even more unusual is the constant sharing and communication of this vision, so that it becomes part of the everyday language of the business, and something that every single member of the team can easily articulate.
So how do you take this simple concept and make it a reality in your business, ensuring you get the full impact of your team on a daily basis and truly engage your employees to their fullest extent possible? Well, take a lesson from any race or cycling event organizer and simply follow three steps:
- The Plan – first and foremost you need a plan, complete with a vision, mission, and goals. You need to get clear in your head where the company is headed, what your vision is and then what it is going to take to get there. Plans are powerful because they ensure you make choices early on: about what your business is, what it is not, who your customers are, and what goals are most important to you. With a plan in place, you will easily be clear in your decision making, your communication with your team and customers, and your strategy for growth. Just take a page from any cycling event. When you arrive at check in, they have their plan all in place. From the moment you sign up to ride, you know that the overall purpose of the ride and what your efforts are going to support. You are clear on the routes, how many there are, where they go, and how to get there. You know where the rest stops will be, what kind of support you will have, and what to do in case of bad weather. Last but not least, you know about the party and celebration at the end, and that even organizers will be all along the route cheering you on. In other words, you know where you are going, how to get there and what support you will have along the way.
- Messaging – the last thing you want is for your plan to be a secret, so messaging is critical to success. Plans fail, more often that not, because they are created and then we put them on a shelf, as if our team will somehow magically understand what is in them, and what they are supposed to do. So again, taking a lesson from our cycling friends, we need to be constantly and consistently messaging the plan. Cycling organizers put road signs, SAG wagons, rest stops and volunteers all along the route to ensure cyclists know they are going the right direction and to provide support along the way. So messaging of the plan, ensuring everyone is clear on where they are going, is critical to overall plan success.
- Re-energize – plans succeed not because of the plan but because of the people, and ensuring that the team has time to have fun, build community, and connect is critical to your overall success. Every twenty miles, our cycling event had a rest stop, a spot where riders could pull off, fuel up, and eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than a body should. These rest stops are some of the best part of the ride. Why? First, the cycling event organizers and volunteers are always there thanking us, telling us what a great job we are doing and how much they appreciate us. Second, we as riders laugh together, talk about the tough route, and overall we connect and build community. So if you want your plan to be a success, you need to build in some time to allow your team to re-energize. Make sure as a leader, you are there to support and encourage them, and encourage them to build community and connect.
So, yes, just in case you are wondering, we did find our way! As we peddled forward it was not ten minutes until one of the SAG wagons came along, gave us a much needed banana for energy, and ensured us we were headed in the right direction. Immediately my energy and enthusiasm popped back, and I was able to put power into my peddles as I was sure my cycling was making a difference and getting me where I needed to go.
Times are tough out there, this is a challenging economy, and you need every member of your team to be putting as much power into their peddles as possible. So to give your organization its best plan of success, you need to fully engage your team by creating your plan, ensuring they know where they are headed and that their efforts matter. Just feeling my own energy and passion subside just because I was unsure of where I was headed, made me realize, as business leader, just sharing your vision with your team will bring you a strong return on investment!
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. http://meridithelliottpowell.com