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10 Things Good Leaders Say to Their Teams

10 Things Good Leaders Say to Their Teams

Good leaders know that communicating the right ideas and messages is key. What we think becomes what we say, and what we say becomes what we do. If you want to lead your team to success, start using these words and phrases to get their thoughts – and then their actions – moving in the right direction.

1. Thank you.

A good leader is quick to acknowledge the help and contributions from the team. Leadership is not a one-man show, and it’s definitely not about hogging the attention or grabbing the spotlight. People need to hear an acknowledgement of their effort, even for small things. It’s encouraging and shows them that their work is noticed and appreciated. That kind of encouragement not only builds unity in a team but also helps each individual want to contribute more.

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2. I’m sorry.

There’s no such thing as a flawless leader, which means that even the best of leaders will make mistakes from time to time. That’s okay if you know how to handle yourself when you make a mistake: admit it, and apologize for it. Then do what it takes to make it right. A good leader will be quick to acknowledge her own mistakes, even if it does seem embarrassing or humiliating. Trying to cover up mistakes only leads to bigger mistakes. Saying “I’m sorry,” on the other hand, is the best way to start fixing your mistake and moving forward again.

3. Our purpose is…

Don’t assume that your team is crystal-clear on their purpose. Maybe they all started out that way, but it’s surprisingly easy, over time, to get a little fuzzy about the team’s purpose. But a team without a clear purpose is a team without unity or any cohesive way to make decisions and plans. Work out a short, memorable way to state the purpose of the team that you’re leading, then say it every day, to yourself and to your team.

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4. What do you think?

A good leader is eager to get help and insight from his team members. He’s not interested in being a know-it-all, but in getting the best information and creative ideas and working with his team on great solutions. Your team is full of experts that you’ve hand-picked. Let them know you value their expertise and insight by asking for it, and then listening when they tell you what they think.

5. We did it!

Anytime you lead your team past a challenge, over an obstacle, or to another milestone, stop and acknowledge it. Acknowledge verbally what’s been done, and that the team, working together, did it. It’s not about your leadership but about the people you’re leading. Celebrate the accomplishments and you’re likely to be making more.

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6. Our focus right now is…

Though your team’s purpose is something that stays fairly stable from month-to-month, the focus can shift dramatically. You may be nose-down on a project, then have to swerve to handle a crisis. It’s important to communicate on a weekly or even daily basis what the focus is for your team. You can’t expect them to read your mind. Clarify what matters most, right now, and your team will know how to pull together and get the most important work done.

7. Let’s talk about it.

Sometimes you’re going to have to deal with interpersonal conflict. Sometimes you’ll be looking at a problem that is so new and daunting no one knows how to start. Sometimes you will all feel like you’re out of ideas. Sometimes you will think you have the perfect solution and be eager to launch the team forward without a glance backward. In all of those situations, a good leader will say those magic four words: “Let’s talk about it.” Pulling your whole team into an open discussion, or sitting down privately to talk about an issue, will result in everyone on the team being heard. Your team can point out flaws and problems, and can also present ideas and solutions. A good leader doesn’t try to produce all the magic; she just helps bring it out in the people around her.

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8. This is our challenge…

When you are facing a potential problem, an obstacle, a big deadline, an impossible client, a huge project, or any combination of the above, it’s time to say these words. Clarify the challenge. Name it. Define it. Get it out there and look at it from all angle. Pretending it’s not there or letting it seem bigger than it is are both marks of poor leadership. There’s no need to be afraid of what you’re facing as a team. There is a need to clearly define the challenge so you can all think about the best way to tackle it.

9. Let’s review…

Every day is a day to learn. A good leader is always looking for the lesson, for the insight, for the new data or method that will make next time an even greater success. Did something go wrong? Let’s review the whole process and figure out what we learned. Did something go right? Let’s review the whole process and make sure we know what made it successful.

10. You did a great job on…

A good leader will hand out congratulations generously and specifically. Praising the team as a whole is a good thing to do; it’s also important to single out contributions at an individual level. The most powerful praise is both specific and sincere. As you work with your team, make note of what each person does well, and be sure to offer them acknowledgement for that the right time. When’s the right time? Well, whenever you want to be an even better leader than you already were.

Featured photo credit: Gruenemann via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

But do you know what motivates your people?

It’s simple:

  • Is their work stimulating?
  • Does it challenge them?
  • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
  • Do you encourage creativity?
  • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
  • Do you praise them?
  • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
  • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
  • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

  • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
  • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
  • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
  • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

6. Monitor Their Workload

Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

  • Red means they’re fully loaded.
  • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
  • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

The Bottom Line

A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

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Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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