How to keep your employees inspired

Yeah! Finally, we're seeing signs of spring. The brutal winter with record snowfalls and plummeting temperatures made many of us ill-tempered and gloomy. (And for the lucky readers out there who live in mild weather regions, please don't rub it in!) I don't know about you, but I always get optimistic, inspired, and energized with the warmer temperatures.

I think many of us would agree that inspiration is the key to motivation. It channels us in positive ways such as getting us to try new things and driving us to put our best effort forward in the workplace and in our relationships. I would even venture to say that without inspiration our lives would be ordinary and mundane.

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places. I've been inspired by children, books, and movies. In fact, as I'm writing this article, my colleague Joan Segal told me that she's been inspired by Jet Blue's latest commercial, and she's now booking her next vacation. I find my 78-year-old mom a constant inspiration. Vera works out and plays golf every week and has her calendar filled with social engagements so that every day is filled with adventure. So the question is: Who (or what) inspires you? And how can you inspire others?

Where does inspiration come from?

Last week I attended a Luxury Marketing Council event centered around "Galvanizing Corporate Culture: Inspiring People to Perform." Steve Cody, co-founder and managing partner of Peppercomm, said it best: "Management sets the stage and often the person in the corner office sets the tone." Inspiring your team to bring your brand's vision and mission to life is not an easy task. The speed of business today keeps CEOs on their toes, and often they leave inspiration out of the corporate equation. But in order for your company to be successful, your employees need to be engaged and inspired.

Respect

You can tell a lot about a company by who the team members respect and what behaviors they value. Reward your best performers who exemplify innovation and inspire others to follow suit.

Hire people for their personal attributes, not just technical skills

Look for employees that have a good balance of expert capabilities, but also look for leadership skills. The best employees can build great relationships with customers, as well as brainstorm and innovate with colleagues.

The corner office

Create mission and vision statements that include some of the values that you hold dear, but don't be controlling. Leave room for diversity of thought and style so that your employees feel they are part of the organization.

Past experience can predict future behaviors

Behavioral interviewing techniques allow people to talk about their own experiences and describe in detail projects they've worked on or a community effort they've supported. Build your organization with people who can talk about their achievements in detail, who are active outside of work, and who describe rewarding experiences working as part of a team.

Everyone is unique

Engage with people on an individual basis and reward everyone on their merits and contributions. People respond to different rewards, such as higher compensation, a development opportunity, recognition in a staff meeting, or simply a couple of days off.

Work is our stage

Be open to new ideas and supportive of employee-led programs. You might set the stage (tone), but all the actors are in the performance (engagement).

Listen and learn

Engage with your staff and regularly gauge moral. Their feedback can help you shape business objectives and internal initiatives. That can lead to stronger employee engagement and hopefully bigger profits.

Responsible corporate citizen

Enjoying a solid reputation in your industry is paramount to business. In today's business world, playing an active and positive role in your community inspires and attracts both clients and employees.

Training and career development

Provide focused and short trainings (two to four hours) over lunch, breakfast, or coffee. Most employees don't want to miss a day at the office, so make training part of your day and culture.

Inspiring others isn't easy. So what's the key? I think inspiration comes from loving what you do. A clear love and passion for something often inspires others. Great leaders know that great companies start on the front lines. Strong companies have loyal and passionate customers. Those customers come from loyal and passionate employees. When was the last time you put inspiration on your corporate to do list?

Erika Weinstein is CEO and founder of eTeam Executive Search.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet. Follow Erika Weinstein at @eTalentSeeker.

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