My boss recently asked me to help add to the Director Handbook we have at our company. I am apparently been deemed The Outdoor School Leadership Expert, which I am not going to complain about that sort of attention. I began researching some ways to motivate staff and how much work it takes to really make a meaningful difference. I found myself on Forbes.com the majority of the time. In fact, I give Forbes.com about 98% credit for my findings. Here’s a little excerpt from part of my leadership section of the manual…
This is one of the more fun aspects of being a boss. Giving out feel-goods also pays you back by giving yourself warm good feelings inside. One caveat to praising employees is that if you do it too much and in a vague manner it will not mean much to the staff. This section, however, is here to help guide you in complimenting and motivating staff in a manner that is meaningful.
General Motivational Guidelines
- Make it Personal – Staff knows you are seriously impressed with them when you acknowledge them personally. When you see something absolutely awesome just patting that person on the back and recognizing that they did something awesome will already instill in them the warm fuzzy feeling. Mentioning to the entire staff how great you think the week went will have an instant feel good moment but it will not create enough positive feelings for them to become 100% motivated. Next time you want to compliment the staff it would be in your best interest to make each person feel special in some way.
- Be Specific – Make sure to mention the specific act or trait you are praising. Do not make a general statement because it will not feel like much to that staff member. When you mention a particular moment they create an emotional connection to it and then they feel even better about that specific moment.
- Take a Genuine Interest in the Instructors – Get to know the staff. It says a lot to staff members when their bosses want to know what their future career plans are or how their family back home is doing. Showing interest translates to the staff that you think they are worth it and are greatly valued.
- Listen – Just like having a tough conversation with someone, listening goes a long way when having a good conversation. Listening not only develops a relationship and trust, but it can tell you a lot about a person. If you listen to what they have to say you may gain insight into what works when motivating that particular person.
- Treat Others the Way You Would Like to be Treated – It is easy to let the power of being a boss get to your head. When everyone else is outside working hard on highway cleanup, you decide you’d rather be in the office even though you do not have anything pressing to do. Instructors like supervisors who are willing to get down and dirty with them. They like the hands on guidance at times. Remember they are people too, and they are all remarkable people just like you. Please keep this in mind when working with them and handing out work duty. They will be willing (for the most part) to do the dirty work as long as they know that if you had the time you would be more than willing to do it too.
Adding these suggestions into your leadership style will already help in creating and maintaining a positive feel for the season. But adding specific actions will also help to create a fun motivating staff environment. We’ve put some ideas below
….So the next time you find an employee or a teammate dragging during the day go ahead and try some of these ideas!