Is your organisation Motivating or Inspiring it’s people?

“Beware of Inspiration!"

Inspiration should have a business health warning; it is highly infectious and will dramatically increase the performance levels of the people in your organisation. Please be warned that Inspiration reduces staff turnover and sickness rates, whilst increasing productivity and profit margins! It can even be passed on to your customers, turning them into ‘raving fans’ and god forbid attracting more and more of them.

The two words we consistently see associated with ‘Organisational and Team Performance’ are ‘Motivation’ and ‘Inspiration’. They are frequently used interchangeably yet they have very different meanings. The correct understanding and application of these different meanings is a critical factor in transforming an organisations’ ability to increase and sustain higher and higher performance levels.

So what is the difference between ‘Motivation’ and ‘Inspiration’?

Let’s share a Metaphor with you to explain…

How far would you expect someone to push your car? Imagine you have just discovered that your car has a flat battery. One option is to ask some people you know or some friendly bystanders to give your car a push start down the road.

So imagine as all these people are pushing your car with you in it, they are providing it with ‘an external force’ to give it forward momentum; they are metaphorically speaking ‘motivating your car’. As you gather speed, you are hoping that as you slip your car into gear and release the clutch that the engine will spring into life, ‘become inspired’ and once again be capable of propelling itself forward. Imagine the engine does not kick in (i.e. total lack of inspiration). What do you do? You could lean out of the window and say to the people pushing (the motivators) “carry on pushing please, only another 250 miles to go”.

Yes, it sounds absurd to keep on pushing; yet most organisations do this, they manage to spend vast amounts of time, money and effort feeling compelled to motivate their staff to compensate for an absence of ‘inspiration’. The downsides and the hidden costs of this common ‘motivational’ approach are significant in the long term, lower staff morale, lower customer satisfaction, reduced efficiency and profits to name just the most obvious.

Motivation has its’ place and can offer a valid and sometimes the most effective and appropriate approach to a performance challenge. Just like giving your car a ‘push start’, motivation is great to get things going, but how sustainable is it in the long term? This ‘constant pushing’ can be draining and very time-consuming for the leaders and managers in the business.

Where the effectiveness and productivity of teams and employees have dropped below the desired levels, motivational training and coaching are all too often seen as the best response.

An inspired organisation …

We have been privileged to work with a number of high performance organisations that focus more on improving the levels of inspiration and engagement amongst their staff and less on motivational management. The bottom line impact can be significant and in some cases extraordinary, for example one ‘inspired organisation’ which has over 2,000 employees, recently had only 54 working days in total missed through sickness across the entire organisation in a whole year! This must be close to a world record as it represents an extraordinary low sickness rate of 0.027 days per employee per year! This organisations’ productivity, efficiency and profit levels were also correspondingly high. The key is that the employees in this organisation are driven with 5% Motivation (Push) and 95% Inspiration (Pull), a complete reversal of the traditional leadership model.

So how do you start to improve ‘inspiration’ levels in your organisation / team?

If we look at the Latin / Italian origin of the word ‘Inspired’ we can see that it derives from the expression ‘In spiritu’ which means ‘In spirit’ which takes us to the term ‘team spirit’. What impact does ‘team spirit’ currently have on performance in your organisation?

The first key to igniting inspiration in an organisation or team is to have a crystal clear, inspiring ‘purpose’ set way beyond the ‘generally assumed purpose’ of simply making more money.

To have inspired people, your organisation needs to have a clear, inspiring and well communicated purpose!

A vision or mission can only be truly inspiring if it captures a sense of purpose that really connects with the leaders, managers and employees in the organisation and indeed its customers.

The 3 key requirements of an inspiring purpose for an organisation are:

  1. It emotionally engages it’s people and it’s customers
  2. It appeals to the highest individual values of it’s key people
  3. It can be told as a story; an engaging metaphor for future success!

The Apple Purpose

As an Apple Mac user and a ‘raving fan’ of Apple computers I can testify that Apple is a great example of an organisation with a clear and inspiring purpose! Have you ever visited one of their High Street stores and experienced the buzz and excitement that is always ‘on-tap’ and their excellent products and customer service?

Steve Job’s Purpose and Vision for Apple is conveyed clearly in 2 words - ‘Style and Innovation’. Take the opportunity to ask any Apple employee what they love most about working at Apple, and the chances are very high that you will receive an enthusiastic response that at the heart of their answer will contain the phrase ‘Style and Innovation’.

Our own inspiring purpose

At Winning Teams we continue to attract the most talented specialists from every performance field to join our inspired team. It is not by accident that our own ‘Purpose Story’ of becoming the ‘pioneers of measurable performance improvement’ in the business world acts as a powerful magnet.

Take a look at your existing Company Vision and Mission Statement and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do they inspire me?
  2. Do they mobilise the potential energy within this organisation?
  3. Do they tell a story that you will want to keep re-reading?

There are many ways to inspire your people, but without a truly engaging purpose you will never fulfill your true performance potential!

Author: Alistair Lobo - Discover more here

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