Creating an Inspired Workplace
The keys to creating one
Do you have an inspired workplace?
One of the questions I’m often asked when on the road teaching, is how to make your employees feel inspired to do their job? It’s a difficult one for many leaders, however, there are some simple tips you can embrace that will begin to create a culture of inspiration.
Most workplace environments are characterized by inspiration or manipulation. Let’s examine each. I’ll start with manipulation, which is far more common in this day and age than one would think. A manipulated workforce is one that has the 3 F’s as I call them:
- Fear – leaders intimidate, threaten and bully employees into doing their bidding. This has the typical outcome for leaders that embrace this: employees do exactly what is expected so as to avoid retribution and then don’t care about the outcome of their actions. They often hate their job and hate their boss – and for good reason! If you’ve ever worked for someone that manages this way, it isn’t fun. You feel belittled, trapped and by NO means do you feel inspired to do your work.
- Force – similar to fear, managers (notice I will not call them leaders) rule by force. In their world, there is no discussion, no explanation, just a do as I say or else. Employees are quite frankly treated like children. Their ability to make an independent decision or to even care about the outcome is overpowered by the force their manager has placed on them. Even if the employee had a good idea that would achieve an even better outcome, the “Fear” manager refuses to listen or even solicit input from staff.
- Facts – the slightly more sophisticated manipulative manager rules by facts. He or she is obsessed with information but it’s only the information that backs up their position – a sort of confirmation bias if you will. The result is a workforce that simply throws up their hands. They view their manager or boss as someone who is a know-it-all always spouting facts but never listening to any counter facts.
In each of these manipulative work environments, managers create stagnant barely functional organizations. Turnover is often very high especially among the Millennial and iGen generations who’s holistic approach to problem solving simply doesn’t mesh with this style. Those employees that do stay, often develop health issues related to the stress this type of environment creates. It’s truly toxic.
A better, modern and more effective approach that true leaders understand is to lead through inspiration. Creating an inspired workplace doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be fun! With a little self-reflection and determination as to where you and your people are as leaders, you can develop a strategy that will lead to an inspired workplace. Here are 7 tips I offer to leaders hoping to do just that:
- Develop your “why” statement of leadership. This is a simple process that I teach in my Intentional Leadership Class. It’s looking at your personal values and that of your organization and determining what you want your department, division, task force, etc. to be about. It looks something like this “To (do something so as (to create a result)” An example is my Operations Manager’s why statement for her role in our company “To provide the information, infrastructure and support SO that our instructors and employees can positively change the lives of all we touch”
- Explain your “why” statement of leadership to your people. It’s great if you develop your why of leadership, but if no one knows what it is, how in the world can you expect them to change their view of what they do if they don’t understand what your vision is?
- Create a partnership with your people. I talk about this at length in my book, Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line. Simply put, if you explain your ‘why’ to where your people understand, you are asking them to join with you or “partner” with you to create the future. Your asking for their input on what can be done to make that vision a reality and to make that why statement truly mean something not only to you but to them.
- Partnership is created through relationship. Again, in my book, I outline that creating a partnership doesn’t just “happen” but requires effort on your part to show your people that you truly want to know who they are.
- Spending time with them creates a relationship. Making a point to be available to your people (the so-called open door policy) is well and good for leaders to practice, but do your best to meet your people at their level. Get out in the field. Spend some off-duty time with them in a non-work setting like bowling, softball game, etc. You will be surprised what you learn about them and it will show them that you truly care.
- People need to know you care. If you have successfully built a partnership through relationship, then your people will know you care. It creates a synergy that makes them feel empowered to execute the why of the organization, department, etc. They are aware of what the ultimate outcome is and know that you will work with them to create positive outcomes for all. It means letting them fail sometimes so that they learn and it means letting them figure out how to solve the problem on their own without your direction. This grows future leaders and empowers them to be better.
- Create Buy-In. Ultimately, this is what all bosses, managers and leaders really want but it’s the “how” that separates the inspirational leader from the manipulative leader. If you execute the first six tips, you will create a buy-in that is far superior and far less toxic than the manipulated workplace.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic. Please check out my podcast Straight Talk on Leadership with Dean Crisp, Episode 11: Creating and Cultivating an Inspired Workplace where I go in depth into this topic. The podcast is available on most listening platforms like iTunes and Spotify. Be sure to subscribe, like and rate our podcast. Subscribing means you won’t miss an episode and liking and rating helps us!
I welcome your stories on your leadership experiences on this topic and others. Be sure to sign up on our website www.lhln.org for free and join the conversation!
“Ultimately, buy-in is what all managers, bosses and leaders want from their people. It’s the process of getting their that differs drastically between a “manager” or a “boss” and a true Leader.”