Most companies unfortunately become cemented in a “go-do” attitude, where employees are viewed strictly as programmable resources that must be allocated efficiently to produce the optimum result. In textbook operation management, this makes sense. But the real world works differently. Inspiring your employees cultivates a learning atmosphere that brings out the highest potential from your workplace. Your employees will be more passionate about their work and produce more results, your turnover rate will be lower, and Maverick Thinking will emerge to spur innovation and development.
Cultivating a workplace full of passion and drive is no easy feat and is something that must be made an everyday priority. These four steps are a great way to trigger this positive momentum.
1. Communication of the Grand Vision
Don’t sell people on a paycheck, sell them on a vision.
For every great, visionary leader, there is an inspired second individual or group of individuals who can take the intangible vision and construct the means to get there. Think Steve Jobs, a brilliant visionary with otherwise no technical talent, partnering with Steve Wozniak, the devoted second-hand man who helped turn Apple into a company with viable products. The leader conceives the destination and must keep it alive, all while helping the supporting individuals find the way to get there. The supporting individuals are just as important, as a destination without a means to get there leads to inefficiency and unclear wandering. This sort of meandering is enough to deflate the inspiration even of your brightest talent. A vision that doesn’t have a means to get there will remain just that – a vision.
2. Cultivate an Atmosphere of Learning
CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave?
CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?
The importance of becoming a learning organization cannot be understated. It’s 2016 – the best resources are a few clicks away on Google. Encouraging your employees to learn and grow their skills is a great way to inspire them and keep them motivated. Most of the companies with the highest employee satisfaction rates such as Salesforce.com have excellent professional development programs. Giving your employees the resources to learn will boost their confidence and galvanize a company’s loyalty. The best part – your employees will immediately start to apply what they are learning to your company, as the problems they are learning to solve will be prevalent in any business workplace.
3. Set a Standard of Excellence
Take Dr. Mehmood Khan, the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of PepsiCo as an example of the standard of excellence companies should strive for in their talent. I just met with him at MasterCard for one of our BPI Senior Executive Board meetings (Mehmood is on the left). Overseeing the Global Performance with Purpose Sustainability initiatives, and over $20B in products, Khan focuses on enhancing the sustainability of environmental standards, innovating new products as well as human and talent assets. All of Mehmood’s employees report directly to him, as he has set up a culture where everyone does the work rather than being told to do the work. This “go-to” rather than “go-do” attitude was created by Mehmood’s direction and training of his R&D organization. Traditional R&D organizations are paralyzed by specifications and direction from the few at the top. Only the most self-sufficient, “go-to” cultures will be agile enough to create quickly and meet market objective. As the CSO, he leads PepsiCo’s R&D efforts and has helped to create breakthrough innovations in food, beverages, and nutrition. This sort of research and leadership is what has helped PepsiCo maintain its competitive advantage in the fiercely competitive space of the food & snack industry.
4. Encourage Failure
As counterintuitive as this sounds to company success, encouraging failure will inspire courage and Maverick Thinking in the workplace. Failure is something most startups experience multiple times a day, yet startups are often some of the greatest collections of passionate and highly intelligent talent. It’s no surprise that many Fortune 500 companies are developing innovation labs and internal entrepreneurship programs. For example, Visa, Inc. recently opened a 12,000 square foot innovation center in the downtown of San Francisco to not only motivate its current employees, but also as a play to attract the hottest new tech talent in one of America’s startup hubs. Considering the amount of Fin-tech startups that have been significantly growing and taking up the market share of companies such as Visa Inc, to not have a way to stake your claim in the future of the payments industry would be a mistake. The Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) is one of the newest, yet most exciting positions in the C-suite, and gives Maverick caliber employees something to strive for.