Four Ways to Inspire Your Employees

I have a friend who is looking for a new job. When I asked what was prompting the move, she said "My job review."

"Really?" I asked. "I thought you were doing great."

"I am. But my supervisor said that my talents were being wasted there. And he didn't have a position that would allow me to grow. He said, he would hate to lose me, but in all honesty I should find another job."

Holy cow?! I have to hand it to the employer for inspiring an employee to reach new goals, and he gets an A+ for honesty, but really? He couldn't have found a way for her to contribute more without asking her to look elsewhere? He was OK with losing a real talent?

Easy Inspiration

For those that want to inspire your employees, but not out the door like my friend's supervisor, you might want to consider these basic steps explained in the video Would I Inspire Me?

These four steps are simple, but as any manager knows, they only work if they are applied with true sincerity. (Employees can smell insincerity like stink on skunk.)

  1. Continually express that you believe what they do is meaningful and that each and every person is valued. And, find real life examples of how the work is meaningful to you.
  2. Acknowledge the contributions of every employee. A pat on the back is great, but letting co-workers and superiors know is oh so much better.
  3. Look for ways to remove obstacles—even if it requires you getting in there and getting dirty. You're part of the team.
  4. Create opportunities for people to grow beyond their job descriptions. To do this requires getting to know the individuals, their goals and what it will take for them to achieve those goals.

Just like every employee has room for growth, so do managers. Take the time to inspire. Develop the skills to be an amazing manager. Don't be like my friend's supervisor, who got the message that his employees needed to grow beyond their job descriptions, just not that it meant "within" the company. 

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.