Sometimes I feel like the guy who’s climbed the distant Himalayan peak to sit at the feet of the guru and discover the keys to the meaning of life the universe and everything.
In my view, in the world of change management and leadership and inspirational motivation Jon Katzenbach, CEO of Katzenbach Partners, is such a guru – well at least in sphere of business.
He has built a career out of figuring out how the to inspire people. [The Discipline of Teams and The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization]
Katzenbach argues that the key to encouraging people via inspirational motivation has more to do with figuring out how to connect them emotionally to their work than throwing money or promotions at them. Also figuring out how to work with and through the informal social structures of the workplace
He says that in every organisation, there are communities of common interest that exist. For example, people who smoke gather together wherever they can smoke; people of different gender and ethnic backgrounds tend to form communities.
It helps if you’re tuned in to using some of the informal aspects of your organisation along with the formal.
Of course I appreciate that this is going take many directors and senior managers out of their Myers – Briggs ENTJ profiled comfort zones – I know this and I am saying this because I have exactly the same tendency myself!
It is all to easy for us to fall back on the formal elements that we can control – typical management stuff like changing objectives, changing programmes, changing incentives, changing structures, redesigning processes etc.
So all of this may change the cost structure and streamline the processes but it won’t motivate your people.
To address the emotional challenge, you have to actively influence the informal interactions of the organisation, rather than sitting back and watching it or even worse, undermining its positive influence.
In my view, managing in this different world will put a premium on actively influencing the informal elements in ways that complement and accelerate the formal efforts.
Katzenbach highlights the following themes:
(1) Personalize the workplace
It’s all about making and demonstrating a personal commitment by getting involved and truly understanding what your staff are doing on a daily basis to make the workplace a productive and effective environment.
The focus here is on the emotional connection you make with each individual – true inspirational motivation.
(2) Always have your compass set on pride, not money.
Katzenbach says that an emphasis on connecting with, learning from, and listening to your staff will repay itself many times over. You must value their ideas and their knowledge and have confidence in their ability to get the job done.
It shows that you really care and that they really matter. Again, it’s the little things you do every day and demonstrate through your own behaviors that make the difference in establishing pride throughout the organization.
Get down as far down in the organisation as possible. Getting to the frontline employee and understanding how he or she thinks and acts, works, and behaves is critical. Knowing family ties and engaging in community events outside the workplace can also prove enormously beneficial.
(4) Make your messages simple, direct, and meaningful.
When speaking to your staff, make your messages simple, direct, and meaningful. Always clarify what matters and why it matters.
(5) Find the Master Motivators
A practical way to do that is to go right down to the front line and find what Katzenbach calls the master motivators who are already recognized for their unique ability to gain the emotional commitment of their people those intuitively provide inspirational motivation – those who intuitively make better use of informal networks and communities of common interest than most good managers do.
No matter how bad things are, there’s a master motivator down there who is taking care of his people by focusing them on the work they have to do each and every day, and finding a way to make them feel good about it.
Katzenbach suggests that if you can find a handful of those, they’re very insightful about what can work under today’s difficult conditions.
Properly applied in a change management context, this emphasis on informal networks and the informal aspects of the business is exactly what a people-oriented leadership style will deliver when employing the holistic and wide view perspective of a programme based approach to change management.