If you have the title of supervisor or manager, you’ve probably had the common experience at least once in your life of sitting with your head in your hands and wondering how to make people do what they are supposed to do. That’s when reality sets in; you realize how little actual control you have over their actions. The magic sauce of empowering employees to perform their best was spread thick for a bit, and yes, you must strive to provide the opportunities, resources, and support they need to feel empowered to perform, but that sauce is only magic for the few who already want to do their best. If you are one of the fortunate few who is able to truly inspire people, go for it. But, outside of setting them up for practical success with clear processes, expectations, accountabilities, etc., the best most of us can do to ensure productivity is to influence our employees.
Take hope: influence can be a powerful thing! You mix your own magic ingredients: you coach skills, communicate team direction, collaborate for effective execution, offer training and development to strengthen those who choose to engage, etc. You grow yourself, making efforts to build confidence in your own competence and character, to influence others to produce their best work. But, occasionally, you still end up, with your head in your hands, wondering how to influence that employee with potential – who is not engaged.
ASK WHAT’S IMPORTANT
One, pretty simple ingredient in your sauce should be to simply ask – and listen to – what’s important to that individual. Good managers know their team members’ career directions, and they learn to align the benefits of good performance with positive steps toward that career goal. That is a critical part of the magic influence that can spark excitement and individual initiative. But effective employees also live beyond their work, so asking what they value in their ‘real’ life can give you incredible insight into how to encouragingly influence their success.
SOLICIT VALUES, WISELY
Be brave enough to ask, but wise enough to limit your discussion – especially your judgment – when you ask what people value. Surprisingly, few people have thought deeply about their critical values: giving them heads-up-time to consider your question can be important. There are also structured ways, like value cards, that can help individuals isolate those priorities. These three areas of consideration may be all the structure you need in seeking what is most important in their lives:
- Aspects about yourself that you value and strive to exercise or experience consistently or as a priority.
- People you value and find so important to your life that you are driven to sustain or create specific outcomes for their benefit.
- A set of principles you value to such a degree, that you choose to align to your priorities and behaviors with them.
Remember, you are not their confessor or counselor; you’re are not seeking the details of what drives their values or validating why they value these things! Your management purpose is to align your influence of their performance with the things that are important to them. If you need some support in navigating this opportunity to engage your own influencing skills, give us a call. An hour may be all you need to finesse this valuable ingredient and manage your team’s success.