A person who’d been reading our articles and blogs contacted me recently to ask about inspiration. Since we’ve focused on the topic a few times, the question was if it was possible to create an organization that inspires people to consistently do their best? The simple answer was “Yes.” Because humans are complex it might seem like a daunting task but I suggest it can be made easy with a few quick tips.
For nearly 47 years, I've basically been in the business of helping people and organizations use more of their potential. Based on my experience, and on the latest research in cognitive and organizational psychology, the following is how to create an organization that inspires people to do their best. (Of course each of these steps has been simplified.)
First, an organization needs an inspiring goal, a common vision of a clearly-defined end result, shared by everyone, talked about often, and affirmed daily. This creates the culture of sustained inspiration which is so powerful it facilitates the remaining list.
Second, the organization needs people who believe in their own ability to attain that end result, to stretch and get creative when it comes to figuring out how they are going to do it. Organizations need people who know that if they are going to succeed, they have to depend on each other, and trust each other, to deliver the goods.
Certainly, some organizations say that they have to screen prospective employees who have this trait so that is something they see as benefiting them in the long run. Personally, I say that is wrong-thinking. Countless organizations have done it with people who are already on the job. These organizations were willing to spend some time teaching them - and themselves how to be successful. It’s a two-way street with a give and get strategy.
Third, the organization needs a good system for tracking performance. Peter Drucker (American author, educator, and management consultant) was one of among many who supposedly said "what gets measured, gets managed” (or done). Timely feedback is critical to performance and overall results.
Forth, the organization needs to adopt an effective process to reward desired performance, including innovation and risk-taking, in meaningful ways to empower people to act and to deal with problems directly at every level.
If organizations can do these four things well they will be on their way to creating an inspired culture. If they can sustain the culture through nurturing, they will be delighted with the results!