Millie

The Highly Motivated Enterprise (or, how to motivate your staff to work 80hrs/week for you)

In Entrepreneurial Leadership on February 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Enterprises in a way are similar to individuals when going through certain life cycles.  There are times to start new things, there are times of crisis, chaos and difficulties, there are times where there are limited financial resources and time to make something important happen, there are times of simple normalcy.  Enterprises that succeed, overcome and take advantages of new opportunities can do so primarily because of a visionary yet sensible and practical leadership team (the brain in an individual) and a highly motivated staff (the body in an individual), acting as one whole being. 

The role of the entrepreneurial leader is fundamental for creating and establishing an environment where the team members maximize their potential and contributions to the organization and stay highly motivated.  The leader has enormous influence in shaping the culture, organization, management, innovation process and the actual leadership of the entity.  Here is a list of factors that create an environment to maximize the staff’s motivation, based on our studies of the cases of Branson, Vermeer, IDEO, the study articles and lectures and my own experience and observation in highly productive, effective and talented organizations.

1.  It all starts with the leader – the organization itself and the culture starts with the message the leader sends by:

  • Being aware of who she is, her strengths, talents and skills,
  • How she builds the rest of the leadership team and organization with people with diverse and complementary skillsets and personality traits. 
  • How she establishes a vision, mission, strategy, planning, organizational structure, physical environment, hiring, reward, control and communication systems, policies and procedures, job design, training and development and how the leader interacts with others and performs their own job

2.  Building the team:

  • Highly talented and motivated people like to work with people that are also highly talented and motivated
  • Members are experts on a particular something on which they can build the strengths of the team
  • People at all levels are willing and capable of respecting each other, trust each other, listening to each other regardless of hierarchy, and encourage each other
  • People at all levels are willing to go on to “the field” beyond their cubes and offices, meet other experts, observe, learn and bring back to share with others what they have learned and how that can be useful for the team
  • The leaders recognize individuals and teams continuously for contributions big and small
  • The leaders empower and trust the team to do their job, come up with new ideas and solutions, and overcome challenges
  • The leaders identify, acknowledge and leverage individual’s strengths, skills and talents by matching assignments/projects/roles accordingly and by promoting ongoing dialogue for development

3.  Setting, communicating and implementing expectations

  • The leaders communicate vision, goals and expectations clearly
  • The leader is willing and able to address poor performance timely and professionally
  • Individuals receive timely feedback and coaching based on expectations and observations and periodic discussions of career interests and future path options

For instances when the organization needs to go through a “crisis” or chaotic time, when they are very tight timelines, money, resources, staff, hours, the entrepreneurial leader’s role is critical to inspire, communicate, facilitate, and be there for the staff.  In addition to sustaining the factors described above, the leader must:

1.  Determine that this is actually absolutely necessary and exceptional.  As a leader, you can pull a “situation” once or twice every so long, but not one after another for years and years, without losing credibility.  (Unless the nature of the job is such, which is obviously communicated to the staff as a candidate for hiring prior to accepting the job).

2.  Share factual, objective data with transparency about the current scenario, the potential difficulties ahead (the “who” and “how much”, in other words, limited staff and budget) and expectations in terms of outcome (the “what” by “when”, in other words, tangible product or service and due date).

3.  Clearly communicate how each individual’s contribution is directly related to a successful outcome

4.  Guide the staff to brainstorm and agree on:

  • “How” to deliver a successful outcome: i.e., the communication flows of news, progress, ideas, even frustrations; the actual process steps require to get things done; who does what by when; how they would stay internally motivated; how they would motivate each other.
  • “What” would be required from them (for example, a prolonged period of time working longer hours), and “what” would they require from the leaders that only them can provide.

5.  Rolling up your own sleeves and be there with the staff through and through

6.  Remind the staff that this moment shall also pass

7.  Have a “steam  outlet” mechanism so that the staff can properly, timely and effectively vent frustrations and be able to get their focus back.  It could be individual sessions that the individual staff may ask with someone in particular, a mentor, a head of department.  It could be town halls after certain milestones.

8.  Recognition, recognition, recognition all the way through the process and a big celebration upon end.

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