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Motivation Through Appreciation (Contribution from freelance writer Jenny Holt)

The following post comes to us from Jenny Holt, who left her HR career behind to pursue freelance writing and to spend more time with her young daughters at home. This article is based upon her own entrepreneurial journey and communication expertise.


Motivation Through Appreciation

A study by marketing expert, Brandon Gaille, shows that a massive 71% of American workers are not engaged with, or are actively disengaged from their work. That’s staggering! Furthermore, in a survey undertaken by Westminster College U.S., the top three incentives that employees indicated would inspire performance were primarily a boost in morale, followed by praise and recognition, both of which came ahead of monetary awards. Taking the time to recognize and appreciate the small gestures of your team can go a long way in motivating and retaining employees.

Whether it is a word of encouragement or a focus on praise and recognition, when credit is due, employers need to be committed to and intentional about making these into positive experiences for the employee. From discovering new hidden gem bars and restaurants to mingle at, to taking to the outdoors for water-based activities – all of that could be a great way to help employees feel rewarded but also connected to each other and their local area. After all, effective team building ensures success on the battlefront. Taking the time to organize such events and making the investment in employees will result in a more motivated task force, happier staff and higher productivity.

Management

With one in two employees having left a job before because of poor management or disliking their manager, it seems that employees don’t necessarily quit jobs so much as they quit their bosses.

A failure in leadership can present itself through a lack of honest communication, an inability to clearly instruct or direct, or giving limited or no feedback. The style of leadership can also play a part in employee morale. Autocratic leaders tend to alienate their staff, while democratic leaders are usually more open to employee involvement, allowing them to feel part of the company’s success. This builds morale and improves productivity.

Team Building

Team building activities are an important method for improving morale and cohesion while also acting as a way of acknowledging and rewarding good results. Ultimately, the goal of team building exercises is providing great bonding experiences for co-workers. Activities that require little planning or preparation, such as after work drinks on a Friday, are great as they are a regular fixture to look forward to and give everyone an opportunity to get together and de-stress at the end of a working week.

However, more elaborately planned experiences can also be ideal every so often. Ideas may include volunteering together, encouraging employees to feel proud of their contributions, satisfied and socially responsible whilst also benefiting from the bonding time with colleagues outside the working environment. Field trips, with high adrenaline activities is another idea, combining fun with bonding which will give employees a boost in motivation and encourage them to stay.

A team that works well together accomplishes a better standard of work in a more efficient time frame than if employees worked alone. A lack of teamwork or a team that has broken down can find themselves having to deal with a variety of different problems. For example, office gossip often leads to increased unhappiness and stress level, which can cause a higher absentee rate, resulting in an overall drop in productivity. Creating friendly environments, where employees’ needs are met and where they know that they are valued, are crucial for morale and subsequently, retention.

What are your thoughts on the two studies mentioned at the beginning of this article? Do the statistics surprise you or do you feel it’s a growing trends?

Join in the conversation by sharing how your place of employment helps (or doesn’t help) to make employees feel appreciated!

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Embracing the Non-Monetary Benefits of Entrepreneurship

sunny park chairs

The ability to work from anywhere – and enjoy a beautiful summer day – is a wonderful benefit of entrepreneurship.

I’ve shared my insight before on how fellow entrepreneurs and business owners might choose to price their services. It’s a fine balance between earning what you’re worth and remaining competitive. One of the biggest challenges comes when you’re just starting out. With little to no prior experience and only a small portfolio of work to showcase, new clients often hire you on a hope and a prayer that you’re half as good as what you promise. This situation often requires you to charge far less than market value for your time to even get your foot in the door. Even a seasoned entrepreneur can recall such a time in their career. The glitz and glamour of being a “business owner” can quickly become jaded by the lack of money, time and sleep in return for countless hours of hard work. So how do successful entrepreneurs overcome this starting hurdle? When I was first building Bennis Inc from the ground up, had I measured my success and happiness in income, I may have thrown in the towel before I ever really got going. Instead, I quickly learned that I had to embrace the non-monetary benefits of entrepreneurship until I reached market value. If you’ve also taken the entrepreneurial leap, focusing on these benefits can help you overcome the “I’m WAY underpaid“ blues.

Flexibility

Even when I was just making ends meet, this didn’t impact my ability to enjoy life’s no-cost luxuries. I was (and still am) able to go for a run whenever I feel like it. I can grocery shop at non-peak hours and enjoy a peacefully empty store all to myself. I can take an early weekend (say, starting on Tuesday?) or grab coffee with a friend who’s swinging through town. With my 9-5 job, I felt guilty even scheduling a doctor’s appointment during the day. Now I can get a haircut whenever it’s most convenient—completely guilt free. Of course, this type of free time and flexibility is balanced by sometimes having to work late into the evenings or on the weekends, but at least it’s at my discretion. When I have work to do, I do it and when I don’t, I’m not stuck chained to a desk. As an entrepreneur, soak this up! Your friends may have chosen a more stable, traditional career, but they likely can’t do work from a park on a sunny summer day.

Creative Freedom

You’re a business owner – that means you also own every decision that’s made. This can be a scary reality, but also an incredibly rewarding one. While you might not be raking in the “big bucks” just yet, remember that the ability to make a decision and not have it be second-guessed or turned down is a luxury most people would place a pretty big price tag on.

Building Something All Your Own

This is all you. When you’re building a business you get to take complete ownership over how every piece comes together. Do you want to steer things in a new direction? Sure! Is your goal to someday have 100+ employees? Go for it! Is your goal to work remotely and travel 10 months out of the year? It can be done! The beauty of building your own business is that you have the ability to make it unique and custom fit to your goals. I have yet to see an example of a corporate job that allows for the same.

Leadership

During my time of really embracing the non-monetary benefits of entrepreneurship, I found that this is truly one of life’s ultimate leadership experiences. It requires a great deal of self-confidence, trust in your instincts and quick thinking. I always felt like I had leadership qualities inside of me that would shine through when it was required, but as an entrepreneur, leadership is required every day. Some might say it’s baptism by fire, but I think one of the greatest benefits of entrepreneurship is the “leadership boot camp” it provides. You’re forced to step into this role quickly and without hesitation.

At the end of the day, it’s important that we remind ourselves that we’ve chosen the entrepreneurial path for a reason. Hopefully it wasn’t for the money (because that can take many, many years to get flowing) but rather it was for the flexibility, creative freedom, ability to create something new and unique and life’s ultimate leadership experience that is entrepreneurship. Before long, the money will follow, but if you embrace these non-monetary benefits early, the money will no longer be the ultimate goal.

 

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Every Day Is An Interview

interview, hiring, pitchFor most people, a job interview is something you have to do only periodically throughout your career. It’s that nerve wracking moment where you’re sized up, asked ambiguous questions about your teamwork and professional skills and then ultimately judged as to whether what you’re offering is worth hiring. Even if you’re fortunate enough to snag the job, there’s yet another challenge of settling in to a new environment, building a relationship with your boss and being seen as the “new guy” on the team for quite a while. This whole experience is not something most people would willingly choose to do every month and certainly not every day.

But entrepreneurs do.

I often joke that as an entrepreneur, every day I wake up unemployed. Obviously this isn’t entirely true as commonly my clients are not just day to day, but at the start of any month they make the choice to hire me by continuing their services. Imagine how different a job would be if every month your boss had the opportunity to re-hire you, pause your work or end it all together. It’s a different career experience for sure – but hey, that’s what I’m after. It keeps me on my toes, always wanting to do my best and prove my worth. This, along with pitching to new clients, has also helped me become more comfortable and confident with interviews.

When I pitch to prospective clients, it’s usually a one-on-one meeting where I talk about my career experiences, my strengths and most importantly try to form a deeper connection with them and their business. For all intents and purposes—this is an interview. They need to see if my skills align with their needs, if I’ll be a good fit for their company culture and if they generally like and trust me. And similar to an interview, the fear of rejection will never fully go away because my desire for acceptance and validation is inherent. The pitching/interviewing part of my job is not the easiest but it’s one of the most necessary for growth.

Being an entrepreneur technically makes me self-employed (at least that’s how I fill out my taxes), but I’ve found that while this does make me my own boss, it makes each of my clients my boss as well. This means that on any given day I may have upwards of 12 people asking me to do something. Because of this, much of the success of my business is dependent upon two things: 1) How well I can prioritize my tasks and 2) How efficiently I can complete them. Unlike a salaried position, I have full incentive to work quickly and take on as many clients as I can. Increasing my clients may mean increasing my “bosses” but it also means multiple paychecks.

When I hear someone say they have to go for an interview I often get nervous for them and think how glad I am I don’t have to do that. But then I stop and realize that I do; every day is an interview for me. And while this career choice may bring limited stability, it also brings endless possibilities.

 

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