The economy has many of us in a “funk.” So says a book entitled Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, according to a published review. The book goes on to say that employees are fearful, overworked, and have less enthusiasm and passion than ever before. The author believes the key to improving your team’s performance and low morale is another basic human emotion: motivation.

Although many business leaders would like to take emotion out of business, the only way to address the negative feelings mentioned previously is to counter them with even more powerful emotions such as faith, belief and optimism.

In “Soup” and his previous book, The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy, author Jon Gordon provides six strategies to motivate your people.
  • Don’t be too busy to communicate. Communicate with transparency, authenticity and clarity because employees are wondering what is going to happen next.
  • Lead with optimism. Convey optimism in all you say and do. As Henry Ford said, “Think you can or think you can’t – either way, you are correct.” (Sounds a little like a quote from Yoda.)
  • Share your vision. Talk about where you are going.
  • Relationships build real motivation. Gordon advises managers to make their relationships with employees their number-one priority.
  • Create purpose-driven goals. “Give your employees a sense of purpose that will fuel their fire toward taking action.”
  • Nourish your team. Employees who feel cared for, honored and nourished are more engaged in what they are doing and will work at their highest potential.
Affirming the thoughts of Gordon is a recent survey conducted by the polling firm StrategyOne. They say that a vast majority (89%) of Americans see work/life balance issues as being a problem with 54% saying it is a significant problem. Nearly half of the workers polled (43%) felt their company is not doing enough to address these balance issues. Workers are being asked to do more with less, and the (emotional) strain is clearly showing.

For those of you who are not managers and are not necessarily “feeling the love” from your company or organization, you can energize yourself by getting involved in something bigger than you outside of your job. The referenced books talked about this aspect of “purpose.” They said that “people are more energized when they are using their strengths for a purpose beyond themselves.”

This year, I have read a number of stories about organizations or individuals who are helping less-fortunate people in other countries to sustain themselves by making and selling things like clothing and accessories. I read of a costume designer in New York who began an organization called “Sewing Hope” that is working with the umbrella nonprofit group Fount of Mercy, which supports vocational development across Africa. Another business called Peru Paper is providing steady work for women in Peru by making greeting cards. Micro Drip, an irrigation systems company, is working with Pakistani farmers to help them see greater crop yields through irrigation.

Enterprise investment funds like Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF) and the Acumen Fund pool resources to invest in entrepreneurs worldwide. Since 1992, SEAF has done about 335 investment deals of this type. Many of these businesses are for-profit companies, but they provide people with a sustained way to make a living as opposed to giving them a charitable handout. It’s about teaching them how to fish versus handing them one.

As we reflect on the upcoming Christmas holiday and the new year ahead, let’s focus on relationships – with our employees, co-workers, friends and family. Let’s also look at how we can be involved in something bigger than ourselves. In these ways, we become energized and motivated to earn our success. Success isn’t something we wait for our company to hand us.

A quote from Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute does a fair job of tying it all together. He said, “Earned success is the creation of value in our lives or the lives of others. It is what drives entrepreneurs to take risks, work hard and make sacrifices. It is what parents get from raising happy children who are good people. It is the reward we enjoy when our time, money and energy go to improving our world.”

Happy Holidays to you and your families from Industrial Heating. IH