Posts Tagged motivation

Inspiration.

inspiration My blog has been silent for a few weeks now.  The reason is partially due to life but mainly because I have not felt inspired to write.  Not that there aren’t thousands of thoughts yet to share about leadership, teamwork and personal interactions, but nothing felt right to write (pun intended).  Amazingly enough, my lack of inspiration now became my topic!  Call it writer’s block or being uninspired, when ideas are not flowing, I feel it is almost impossible to force good content.  For me, when I write, it is like I am speaking the words in my head while I am typing.  I type as fast as my thoughts are flowing which makes writing fun and the words easy to find. When my head is empty, my fingers are not able to move. Personally, I think it is obvious even in the way I write between topics I am inspired to write about and others that I am trying to just get down on paper.

The difference between inspiration and discouragement comes down to motivation.  When I am inspired about a topic or a life event, I am motivated to work.  My mind and my body are energized towards greatness as ideas and effort flow forth in a way that feels exciting and fun instead of like a drudge.  When I am not encouraged or enthusiastic about my topics or about my life events, the weight of my ambivalence slows down my entire psyche.  I don’t WANT to think or to move! So let’s think about this when it comes to leadership because this is a huge deal.

Just like it is obvious to me in the results of my work when I want to write and when I am going through the motions, the outcome for groups is no different.  The harder task for leaders is to find the motivating factor for the team to drive them to greatness.  Unfortunately, we are all made different so this sounds a lot easier than it is.   Although, there is one core truth that I choose to believe, that people do strive for greatness.  Call it optimism, but when we are at work or charged with a task in life, I choose to think that individually we want to good a job.  It is a sign of our capabilities and our talents to demonstrate what we can accomplish.  In turn, when we have a chance to use our skills, we are energized. I think for leaders, identifying those particular talents and skills of each team member to contribute to the goal overall is the key to keeping people motivated and therefore inspired.

Lori Buresh

The Professional Development Team

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Inspiration – The Spark for Action

               As I recover from knee surgery, I’ve been paying attention to inspiration: finding my own to get through some tough physical therapy sessions.  In the last week, there have been various references, especially through Facebook, from friends and family to inspirational stories or actions.  I started thinking about what inspires people and why it inspires.  Inspiration, along with motivation, is a large driving force behind leadership and goal accomplishment.  As leaders, we look to inspire others, but what does that mean? The definition of the word “inspiration” from dictionary.com is an inspiring or animating action or influence. 

             I believe that the animating action or influence is what we strive for as leaders.  Leaders work through actions, behaviors, talents or words, to provide an example that motivates others toward a desired goal.  The truth is we cannot force others to do things they choose not to do.  Every single action people make is a choice; the objective is for people to make good choices! As leaders, we need our teams to choose to do their individual parts to support the entire group.  That is what inspiration does – provides us with the internal strength to make choices.  

              Inspiration is a very personal thing.  What inspires me may not inspire others.  In my case, I am inspired by a former college classmate of mine who has been on the brink of death more than once and keeps fighting back.  I am inspired by my husband who endured a brain tumor with subsequent surgery; he has worked hard to overcome his challenges in amazing ways.  I am also inspired by my children, who have faith, trust, and innocence in the world around them – I want to see the world through their eyes.   My inspirations provide mental strength for me to work harder in my own life.  It is that mental strength, an individual internal spark, which leaders look to tap into when inspiring their teams. 

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

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Job Satisfaction – Why Leaders Should Care

               As leaders, we are always looking to inspire and motivate our teams. We hope to get the most productivity and creativity out of each individual and the group as a whole. The question then is what role does job satisfaction play in the equation?  The answer is a lot!  First of all, we have to define what job satisfaction means.  According to Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge who wrote Essentials of Organizational Behavior, job satisfaction is “a positive feeling about a job resulting from an evaluation of its characteristics.”  What does that mean?  It means that a job is more than its processes like paperwork or customer service.  Jobs mean adhering to company policies, working well with other team members and supervisors, achieving goals and maybe accepting some aspects that are undesirable like shift hours.

                Robbins and Judge lay out six different areas where job satisfaction has a direct impact. These are:

  •   Job Performance – Obviously people who are happy with their job will do their work better and more productively.
  •  OCB (Organizational Citizenship Behavior) – Positive job experiences lead to positive attitudes in and outside of work regarding the organization which leads to more cooperative and collaborative performance.
  • Customer Satisfaction – Most employees interact with customers, both internal and external, which means the better people feel about their job, the more that positive attitude will be projected to the customer. Employees will also tend to work harder to please the customer in order to uphold the standards and reputation of the organization.
  • Absenteeism – People who don’t like their work tend to try to avoid going, which puts a larger strain on the rest of the team; conversely, people who are satisfied with their jobs tend to enjoy the work and coming to work each day.
  • Turnover – If people are dissatisfied with their work, they will look elsewhere for employment which costs the company money to hire and train a replacement as well as the lost corporate knowledge
  • Workplace Deviance – Not everyone who is unhappy leaves the job. He or she may stay on but make life difficult for everyone else which creates an unfriendly and potentially hostile work environment for others.

             Each one of these factors can have a high impact on productivity and overall cost to the organization.  Leaders have to be aware that job satisfaction plays a huge part in the success of any team or business.  While there are different tactics to apply specifically for the areas listed, the underlying solution is to identify the root cause of the dissatisfaction by the employee.  Why is he or she unhappy?  What is causing his or her antagonistic behavior or negative attitude?  The decision after that is if the leader has any authority or control over the issue at hand. It is worth the effort to save an existing employee if the return in productivity is at least equal, but hopefully greater than before.  However, leaders have to keep in mind that one bad apple can spoil the bunch, and when it comes to business, we don’t need bad apples.  

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

 

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Should Leaders Focus on Ethics?

                    How many times do we turn on the news and there is another story of a corrupt businessperson or a politician? It’s hard to believe that the Enron scandal was just over 10 years ago; it’s even harder to believe that it wasn’t an isolated incident.  Sometimes I shake my head and wonder what is wrong with people these days.  Weren’t people taught right from wrong when they were children?  I can only assume they were: yet somehow corruption persists.  Merriam-Webster defines ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.”  Sounds great – what does that mean?  Another definition listed makes a little more sense: “the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group.”  Now we are getting somewhere–ethics relates to conduct, specifically governing conduct.  If we look back at the first definition, ethics outlines what is good and bad along with morals and obligation.  Since I’m on a dictionary kick, what are morals?  According to Merriam-Webster, morals are “of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior.”  Basically morals and ethics should be what guide people’s actions. 

                   Why do so many people seem to get it wrong?  In some ways, leaders today must take on additional responsibility like parents.  While our team members are not our children, they are grown adults.  Sometimes they need to be reminded of simple things like the golden rule. It is amazing how many times problems could be solved with the simple “do unto others as you would have done to you”!  It seems that the temptations of today can derail some people’s ‘moral compass’ quite easily, which is tough for leaders to fight against. However, all is not lost.  I believe the majority of people want to do the right things and be good people – call me an optimist.

                    The key is for leaders to tap into that ‘good’ in each person.  Doing the right things and feeling good are very powerful motivational tools.  A watch-out, though, is to walk the fine line between motivating for the sake of pure goodness and elevating people’s sense of self-righteousness.  A situation can turn ugly if the team members elevate their own egos by being ‘right’.   Ironically, one way to manage egos is to remove emotion from the equation.  Unfortunately, emotion is necessary to drive motivation and passion in a team member. No one ever said being a leader was easy!

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

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Personnel Development – Is It Worth the Cost?

                 There is a gentleman I talk with occasionally who has a viewpoint 180 degrees from my own. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him Sam.  Sam believes (quite strongly) that personnel development is not his problem.  Personnel development in this instance means cross-functional training, leadership training or any other non-direct work-related education.  Sam’s stance is his employees are being paid to do their jobs. Their job is to service Sam’s customers – basically provide excellent customer service.  Sam owns his business which provides regulatory support for blue collar companies.   Sam doesn’t really care about his employee’s personal development or desires.  Sam explained to me that if you remove the emotion from the equation, it boils down to doing your job.  It is the emotional part he refuses to be involved with. 

                Sam’s opinion is one that may be rather divisive.  It goes against the grain to suggest that employee satisfaction is irrelevant.  He has some supporters however because it is cheaper and easier to take this position.  If all an organization provides is job-specific training and only an expectation of job fulfillment, there is a reduction in overall cost to the company.  However, as John Marshall Reeve states in Understanding Motivation and Emotion “People are motivationally complex.”  In essence, people want to be challenged (but not overwhelmed) with positive feedback to support their efforts and competence.  Sam’s position does not provide a challenge, feedback or support. So while he may save money he is not getting optimal work from his employees; although Sam’s profession is one where it may not matter.

                To put it bluntly, I disagree with Sam.  I believe companies are finding the more empowered and supported employees are, the more they engage in the company itself.  Companies need to have an edge in today’s global economy and that edge is sometimes the people who are working in the company.  Everyone has ideas and improvements that, if fostered, could mean a breakthrough for the organization.  Employees, who have the ability to learn, grow and have their input valued, may provide some of the best cost-savings!   We all enjoy feeling important by applying our particular skills and talents to problems. Also it is proven that in this ever changing world, the more leaders work together and support employees towards strategic goals, the better the results. My question back to Sam is: aren’t your people worth it?  I know mine are.

          Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

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Motivation – Where’s Your Focus?

                 I doubt this will be the only blog post I write about this topic since motivation is at the heart of what makes a true leader.  But this is the first one.  I started thinking about motivation after watching a brief news clip about Colonel (ret.) Jack Jacobs, a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.  His story is just as amazing as you would expect from a MOH awardee. He was wounded with shrapnel, bleeding from his head, yet he went back into the battlefield and rescued 14 of his fellow soldiers before he collapsed and had to be taken out by medevac.  When asked why he returned to the battlefield 14 times after he was bleeding profusely, he said, “I thought I was the only guy who could do anything… If the situation were reversed, [the men] would do the same for me.”

                Col. Jacob’s was in the middle of battle and thought only of his men.  His own pain was of little concern at that moment.  His source of motivation was saving the lives of others.  I believe that is the mark of a true leader.  The purpose of his action was in no way self-serving, but purely for someone else.  Many times, our decisions or our choices are made with some hint of self-preservation or self-centered thought in mind.  I admit that I am just as guilty as anyone in that regard – it is part of our human nature.  Looking back on my life, I notice that the times I’m at my best are the times I’m focused on something or someone else.

                What does this mean for leadership?  Should we all run out into the field of battle to be tested? Probably not the wisest of decisions, yet we should be grateful for all the men and women who do each day.  However, we can each do our part in our own capacity, especially in business.  I was told of a business owner who refuses to communicate with his people and has a rather dictatorial approach to his company.  Now I am not personally acquainted with this business owner and cannot speak to the truth of the accusations, but I could clearly see the impact on the employees through our conversation.  It appears to the employees as if this owner’s motivation is NOT the company and NOT the employees.  The people I spoke with do their work and like their jobs (for the most part).  The take away is this: Think about how much more powerful, energetic and ultimately more profitable this business could become if the owner’s motivation was shifted in a different direction. 

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team

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