High performance employees need to be inspired

2012

To become a High Performance Organization (HPO) it is obviously vital to hire and retain the right employees. These are people who have an incurable curiosity, want to be challenged, need to have responsibility and at the same time ask to be held accountable, and want to perform better - everywhere and anytime. These high performance employees perform better than the average employee and because of that, they contribute more to its effectiveness. With employees like these, an organization can transform into a true HPO.

But employees like these don't grow on trees. You need to inspire them.

HPO employees want to be inspired by their managers to continuously perform better and achieve extraordinary results. They want to be kept on their toes and be challenged. They continuously want to develop themselves, to achieve the best they can, and because of this, contribute to the success of the organization.

Employees of an HPO are quite extraordinary and it requires focused attention of managers to keep these people interested in working at the organization. HPO managers therefore consciously inspire their employees by giving them interesting work, challenging tasks and increased responsibilities; and stressing that they should be proud of their own achievements and those of the organization.

They stimulate self-confidence, an entrepreneurial attitude, firmness, a can-do attitude and a winning mindset in employees. HPO managers raise the performance of their people and themselves by setting high standards and stretch goals. They let people feel they are part of a bigger picture and inspire them to achieve greatness as part of the organization. They possess a crusading enthusiasm and take time to win people over.

Recently I held an interview with Mikael Sørensen, general manager at Svenska Handelsbanken NL. Something he said about inspiration intrigued me.

"I walk the talk because that talk is what attracted new employees to the bank. When I had job interviews with people before they started at the bank and I told them how we work, then that was what interested them in the bank. So it is important that when they come in, it actually works this way. And this congruency inspires them."

Some ideas to get started to inspire employees
There are two main ways how you can inspire your employees: by changing your own behavior to be more inspirational, and by creating conditions for your employees that increase their motivation. Below are some ideas for both techniques.

Become an inspiring person yourself by doing the following:

  • Be passionate about the goals of the organization, show emotion, and generate enthusiasm for these in your employees.
  • Connect with your employees by showing real interest in them and finding out what motivates and inspires them, and actively looking for their ideas and opinions.
  • Be somewhat unconventional and take personal risks, by doing things differently and operating outside 'normal' organizational boundaries and outside your comfort zone, and letting your employees do the same.
  • Make sure inspirational moments are succeeded by follow on actions, so your employees see that you act upon your inspiration.
  • Be engaging and a team person, and regularly express to your employees it is all about 'we' and not about 'I'.
  • Become a 'story-teller' who is able to package messages in an appealing form that captivates your employees.

Create motivational conditions for your employees, by doing the following:

  • Paint your employees an attractive picture of the future of the organization and their place in it and provide the rationale why certain goals have to be pursued.
  • Give your employees interesting and meaningful work that challenges and vitalizes them. This work should require them to do things differently, with more risk and uncertainty, which gets them out of their comfort zone.
  • Set stretch goals for your employees and give them more responsibilities and freedom to schedule their own work, while including the possibility of setbacks that they will have to overcome.
  • Provide your employees with the possibility to get into contact with the beneficiaries of their work, i.e. the customers, so they can see the results of their work.

So the big question is, how do you inspire and motivate employees to achieve extraordinary results? Do you have more ideas and tips?

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About The Author

Andre de Waal
Andre de Waal

Dr Andre A. de Waal MBA is Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Maastricht School of Management and Academic Director of the HPO Center (Center for Organizational Performance), an organization that researches and gives advice about high performance organizations.