Employee Empowerment: How to Coach Your Team to Succeed
The question I get most often is “How do I motivate my ___________?” You can fill in the blank with employees, or team, or team leaders. That got me to thinking: how much motivation does a football player need to line up on the field with his team and get the daylights knocked out of him again and again in the hopes of moving an odd-shaped ball down the field? Sure, he gets paid buckets of money, but is that enough motivation for a dislocated shoulder or a concussion just to win a game?
Maybe yes and maybe no. I decided to watch football a couple Sundays ago – purely for research and education - to study the way football coaches and/or other players motivate or get motivated. So, I got my tin of Garrett popcorn, grabbed the remote, put my feet up and settled in for a couple hours of intense scrutiny and investigation via the NFL. The fact that I had ten bucks on Seattle to win had nothing whatsoever to do with my self-imposed viewing assignment.
Before the game started, here’s what I learned from listening to the sportscasters who, apparently, are all football experts: Each team has to get out there and get the job done. The sports announcers (who are themselves retired football players and coaches) tell us that in order for each team to get the job done, they need momentum and energy. The way to win games is with momentum and energy, which comes from getting the job done. And, no matter what else happens, don’t screw up. A team just can’t win games if they’re screwing up and not getting the job done. Coaches can get fired and players can be released from their contracts for not getting the job done and winning games. Seriously? Is anyone listening to this crap? And by crap, I mean double-talk, empty platitudes, and fear.
Are you handing out crap to your employees? Do you give meaningful direction to your team members or talk in empty platitudes? Are you trying to motivate your sales staff by putting the fear of getting fired into them? Let’s face it, if what you’re doing right now was working for you, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now or looking for ways to motivate your team. And, to that I say: Congratulations. Whether you get insight from me or anyone else, the fact that you are this proactive will pay dividends. You are on your way to increasing the profitability of your company.
Ask me that question from the top again, but this time insert the word “empower” for the word “motivate.” How do I empower my team? Is there a difference between motivation and empowerment? If so, is the difference really all that important?
You’re not a babysitter to your employees or staff, you’re not their momma, and you’re not their best friend – you’re the coach and leader. And, as leader, the best you can do is to allow your team members to also be leaders. Tell your team what you’re looking for and what your expectations are and then get out of the way.
You’re the coach, so it’s up to you to decide what your company needs – give your team the plays and let them run with it. In other words, the coach designs the plays, but it’s up to the players to make each play actually happen successfully. By giving your team members individual accountability, you’re giving them ownership of their successes -- and their failures. They can truly feel proud when they succeed. And when they don't, they'll have a greater sense of responsibility to learn from their mistakes.
There may be other “steps” to motivating a team; but, I believe real, long-lasting motivation comes from empowering each individual to be accountable for his or her own success and, therefore, the success of the team. The quarterback would never get one pass thrown if he couldn’t rely on the success of his offensive line. The running back wouldn’t make it three paces if he didn’t have successful blockers. When a team (or an individual) achieves their goal, or gets a new client, or whatever, that is definitely something a team can rally around and, hopefully, repeat. And, if a team member cannot, or will not, learn from the mistakes, it might be time to let him or her go.
Now, back to my football Sunday. (Have you ever noticed how watching football is a great excuse for eating snacks?) Seattle was getting thumped by the New York Giants so, at half-time, I changed channels and watched a short interview down on the field with a rookie quarterback whose team had just won. The reporter asked him what went right that day. The quarterback had praise for the special teams, the defense, the offensive line, the receivers and running backs, the coaches, and even for the opposing team.
The reporter knew that the rookie quarterback had had an exceptional game that day, so the reporter asked him the question again. What went right that day? The young quarterback thought it over some more and finally replied that he himself had performed well that day.
Learn about top Las Vegas Executive Coach, Jim Jackson!