“Customers never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek
The way we conduct business is rapidly changing, what worked five years ago may no longer work, yet many businesses are operating with tools, systems, and environments that they have not changed in decades. The time to change is NOW.
There is one aspect of business acumen that is almost always overlooked: Inspiration. As we work with more and more leaders, we continue to validate that inspiration is a critical resource to be managed in modern organizations.
- We work an average of 90,000 hours in a lifetime.
- Inspired employees are 3x more productive than dissatisfied employees. But only 1 in 8 employees are inspired.
- As an economy, we’re moving away from consumption and toward fulfillment and purpose.
- People increasingly crave calling, community, and cause.
With so many hours spent at work and so few people inspired, we have to ask: how are we spending all that time and what might happen if we were more inspired at work?
Why Inspiration? At InspireCorps, our belief in the importance of inspiration is so deep, we constructed our entire business around it. We think of inspired organizations where:
- Employees lead authentically from wherever they stand: they take actions and make choices that inspire commitment toward the shared mission.
- Team performance is the lifeblood of organizational excellence. Teams embody coordinated agility: they drive together to results, maintain trust and human connection, lead innovation, and hold accountability.
- Systems and structures are aligned to mobilize efforts through to both achieve results and build capability in the process.
The ROI (Return on Inspiration) we see from inspired organizations:
- Greater innovation and agility
- Driven to produce results
- More collaborative and rich communication
- Better at attracting and retaining top talent
To see these in action, let’s start with a few scenarios that typically get in the way and inspiring solutions that can flip the story.
This often happens when there is a disconnect in leadership.
As an example, let’s say that a new c-suite level executive is brought into an established company leading a small team with new ideas. An existing team lead is not on board with the suggested changes and a breakdown in communication ensues. Sides are taken and the divide continues to grow as the two or more factions create silos that operate independently of other parts of the business.
This is damaging on so many levels, information is not shared, decisions are made in the dark, the atmosphere of conflict adds a layer of unnecessary conflict and uncertainty that erodes relationships and breeds inefficiency.
It starts at the top, the c-suite and the team lead must put egos aside and work collaboratively to identify the problems: where the breakdown occurred, where it seeped into other parts of the organization, etc. The inspired solution comes from the mindset shift of these leaders- they have an opportunity to take a step back and look at the situation from a different, more inspiring lens: Instead of focusing on the misalignment, these leaders can focus on how they will reengage and look at the situation together. Leaders can ask themselves how they can learn from each other? What strengths and resources can they use to get priorities on track? How can they support each other?
Once they are in agreement and have coordinated a plan, the next step is clear and thoughtful communications that bring the fragmented teams together. Establish an open forum for discussion, define roles and expectations in both directions, and make an effort for all involved to feel supported.
An elemental part of the communications plan is to express that everyone matters and that they are stronger and more agile when they work as a team.
A well-known inspiration crusher is burnout. When employees are overworked and stressed, it has a direct impact on their work, relationships, and their health. They become disengaged and their initiative takes a hit, as does the end result of their work product.
There are countless reasons that can cause individual and team burnout, including having to work too many hours because the organization has ineffective hiring practices. Or a leader has difficulty delegating. Or one employee spreads conflict that exhausts everyone’s energy. Whatever the cause, the workflow is disproportionate and that causes negative disruption.
Another consideration is the way teams are structured, a team can be remote and scattered all over the globe or in the same space but working across five generations. Diverse teams can be an amazing asset to an organization, but they require a visionary leader and stellar communications.
Again the inspired solution starts at the top. A drained and exhausted workforce will never garner positive results, it takes strategic leadership and an energized team of humans to create work that matters.
Good news is it’s fixable, figure out the root cause of the burnout and devise a plan that equitably distributes the workload and supports the growth of an inspired team and put it into action.
Inspired People Drive Success
Organizations are defined by their people, inspired people simply do better work. Let’s explore a few new perspectives on creating and leading inspired teams.
An excellent place for leaders to start is to know the strengths of the people on your team and use this intelligence to stack your teams and assign roles. Through leveraging strengths, leaders are activating inspiration in these individuals as each person is then working from their individual zone of brilliance. This alone will transform the collective focus of a team and accelerate the level of performance and capacity of a group.
Once everyone knows their role and what they are responsible for, add on a clear communications plan, timelines, and a way to track and celebrate achievement. Inspired teams like to get things done.
As relationships align and grow, so will trust and accountability. Leaders will see where there is alignment with people and with processes. As team members feel a true sense of belonging, they’ll be inspired to openly share their ideas and their unique perspective from being immersed in their specific part of the business operation. The best ideas are born in organizations where every voice has the opportunity to be heard.
Now it’s time to bring it up a notch and build deeper connections through coordination, shared learning, embracing innovation and change, and maybe a bit of inspirational disruption too.
Hiring Practices for Inspired Organizations
Identify areas where there is room for improvement within groups and teams, the individual leader has an incredible opportunity to influence and introduce a framework of inspiration that can be contagious. We have all had the experience of being around someone who is vocally negative or critical within a group or team; soon the entire group or team is feeling irritated, critical, and negative. Inspiration spreads similarly, though in a positive way.
As change weaves its way throughout your organization, consider your hiring practices. Strive to be the company that attracts people who are top talent and who enhance the work environment.
Design an Inspired Company Culture
One way to keep an inspired team working collectively, is to ask them to help create or enhance the company culture. When everyone is committed to working from the same vision, mission/purpose, and belief in their work magical things happen and it’s possible to scale inspiration across teams and organizations to stand out as a differentiator in today’s competitive market.
As we shared in our recent article in Inc. Magazine, inspired organizations have a company culture that makes it possible for employees to lead authentically from wherever they stand: they are empowered to take action and make choices that inspire commitment and activate a sense of possibility and invincibility toward the shared mission.
Team performance is the heartbeat of inspired organizations. How can you inspire your team today?