Top 10 ways to use communication as a motivator
Managers spend a lot of time trying to influence and motivate others. The best formula for motivation is built on a foundation of frequent and consistent communication. Consider these top ten tips for keeping your employees informed and involved in doing their jobs well.
- Create an Internal Communication Plan. Successfully managing employees requires a plan of action. Not a company-wide plan, but your own personal plan and schedule for how you will communicate with your team. All employees want to work for leaders they can count on to set and manage expectations. They need clarity around what is expected of them so they can meet performance goals. Too often, internal communication is rescheduled or canceled because of external circumstances. Make sure your communication schedule is a priority and stick to it. Your employees will appreciate your dedication to creating a structured environment where they can learn and grow. This environment is motivating and promotes employee satisfaction, which creates a win/win scenario for all parties.
- Diversify your Plan. Make sure you have ideas for reaching remote employees or those in different offices. Communication should be varied between in-person meetings, podcasts or webinars, quick phone updates or e-mail blasts. People are different. Some engage quickly in meetings while others prefer to read through ideas and think about them before responding. A diverse plan reaches everyone and blends different communication methods.
- Get Personal. Share stories in your communication. Give your team the high of the month and the low point. This recognizes individuals within the group, but also creates a level of engagement and community for all employees because they feel as if they know what’s going on and can relate to the experiences of others.
- Keep It Short & Sweet. Make sure your style gets to the point. If you’re using written communication as one of your touch points, deliver your thoughts in sound bites. Think paragraph vs. page. In person, give helpful hints or one easy step to impact the day. We all love sound bites. Make it simple and most will hear it and try it.
- Stretch the Knowledge. One of the biggest skill gaps identified among employees is business acumen. Few employees understand what makes a business successful or how the top competitors are performing within the industry. When you have employees together, share perspectives and offer insights that help employees see beyond their desk and gain perspective on the business from a different direction.
- Encourage Employee Input. Every group needs time to brainstorm and offer input. Make sure that your communication plan is consistent about how and when this happens so that some input can be forward thinking and generating ideas, rather than only used when there are emergencies or issues to be solved. Most employees enjoy creating opportunities more than solving problems.
- It’s Your Line. Groups need a concept to rally around. Try using a theme to tie your activities and strategy together. Managers who use themes find it easier to keep communication and employees energized. Themes add fun and a healthy touch of competition to a team.
- Set a Clear Direction and Stick to It. Most importantly, communication has to reinforce direction and a strategy for what the group is trying to accomplish. Effective managers are good communicators and use key methods of communication to keep employees on course with the overall strategy and goals to carry out the strategy.
- Be Seen as Well as Heard. The “real time” feel of communication encourages most managers to respond quickly and to send out updates and urgent notes through e-mail and text mail for a quick response time. Interaction can be as important as urgency. Employees like to see managers and have the opportunity to ask questions and challenge direction. Effective communication needs to be two-way every once in awhile. And, that leads to the top tip for motivation.
- Stop Talking. Take time to be a good listener.It’s true that few of us are natural listeners; most of us are just waiting for our opportunity to talk. And, that’s true of employees. In-person meetings can allow for discussion and the opportunity for managers to hear what employees are thinking. Real motivation comes from feeling as if your thoughts and reactions matter and that your input is valued and encouraged.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sally Williamson is an executive communications and speech coach based in Atlanta. Her firm, Sally Williamson & Associates, provides one-on-one coaching and customized group workshops that blend personal development with bottom-line results. Sally teaches workshops on Executive Presence in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast. She is currently writing a book about Executive Presence, which will be published later this year. For more information, visit www.sallywilliamson.com or email [email protected].