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].
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.