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Mix praise with future promise

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

A wishy-washy motivator tends to overdose on declarations. He’ll write a number on a whiteboard and say, “I need all of you to focus on this monthly production goal.”

There’s nothing wrong with declaring what you want people to accomplish and then urging them to follow through. But top motivators don’t stop there; they also use questions and accounts of past triumphs to rally staffers to excel. Specifically, they mix declarations (“We must do this”) with requests (“What would it take for you to double your output?”) and dissections (“Let’s examine what went right last month on the Smith project”).

The most effective declarations instill hope in your staff. They sound daring and exciting. When you say, “If we pull together to generate revenue, we can break the company’s annual record,” you dangle an enticing challenge.

Deadening declarations, by contrast, do not motivate. Telling people, “I say that we will exceed our target number for this quarter” falls flat. Foster a sense of once-in-a-lifetime enthusiasm for the goal so that everyone feels com-pelled to treat it seriously.

Requests are powerful motivational tools because they engage others. When you ask for input before declaring goals, you increase the odds that employees will feel like participants rather than peons.

Dissections are the most underused tool for managers to motivate. Like a baseball fan raving about yesterday’s big game, describe what actions, beliefs or strategies led your workers to a recent victory. Highlight relevant details and urge everyone to build on what went right.

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