Do you remember your first day of work? The day you stepped out of the comfort and safety of your home to the big, bad world where your family wouldn’t be able to protect you from every little misstep and fall. Just pause for a bit and remember that time. Was your stomach in a knot or had butterflies bursting out? Were you excited, little nervous or simply petrified?
No matter how you felt that day, it was a huge moment. An employee with big stars in your eyes and dreams. A dream of having a better life. A dream of working at a place which interests you and challenges you, at the same time. A dream to be respected at work. Where people look up to you, want to be like you. After all, no one thinks that they are ordinary. We all believe we’re extraordinary in one way or the other.
But the question remains. What makes one extraordinary?
An extraordinary person is simply one who does things that ordinary people are unable to or won’t do. Consistently. Day in, day out. You don’t have to be extraordinarily gifted to be counted as one. There are quite a few people who possess amazing skill and knowledge, yet barely turn up for work and do not put in their maximum effort.
They lack hunger. Hungry people have an ingrained desire to succeed. They may not necessarily be the most talented nor the most intelligent. Yet they possess an essential ingredient to become extraordinary. The insane drive to be successful at all costs. To be more than the sum of their parts.
To become the best, you have to put in persistent effort each day, every day. That’s what differentiates ordinary folks from the hallowed extraordinary ones. Success is available to one and all. All one has to do is apply themselves daily and sprinkle it with a bit of extra effort on top!
How to consistently deliver quality?
Constant and consistent application. That’s the secret behind consistently delivering quality. I believe the best way to reinforce a point you’re trying to make is by giving an apt example. Let’s talk about Fred Smith. He founded Federal Express based on a compelling idea: the promise of overnight delivery. No questions asked.
But how did Federal Express build its reputation? It was built by consistently fulfilling the promise every single day and making slight improvements along the way. Federal Express, in fact, went a step further than just simply picking up and delivering a shipment to its destination.
They chose Memphis, Tennessee as a base to establish their warehouse operations where their major shippers could store their oft ordered goods. FedEx picked Memphis because of its central location and the fact that its airport was rarely affected by bad weather and remained open throughout the year. The shipper only had to inform FedEx when a customer placed an order with them, and they would deliver their order from Memphis to anywhere in the world.
The crux of the story is you don’t have to be in the business of shipping to deliver quality day in and day out. You can become a FedEx of your own field whether you sell real estate, design websites, deliver packages, or register domain names.
What is of utmost importance is how you cultivate an attitude of excellence among your people and inspire them to deliver quality on an everyday basis. An attitude of excellence can transform run-of-the-mill people into champions of quality. Ordinary people are satisfied with a 99% quality standard and feel that it’s good enough.
Extraordinary people know for a fact that if they were to settle for the 99% standard, everyday life would turn into a catastrophe. You’d see three misspelled words on each website page you visit. Wrong drug prescriptions being given to 200,000 people. Not scared yet? Then, picture doctors and nurses dropping 35,000 new-born babies and food poisoning taking the lives of 2 million people every year.
When you ingrain an attitude of excellence in yourself, only then you can turn towards your employees and motivate them to take inspiration from you. Become a candle to them. Turn into a flame that ignites them to give their all.
How to motivate employees?
Let’s tackle the all-important question. How to motivate employees and improve employee engagement? What can a manager do to encourage his team members to give their maximum effort? The truth is that you, as a manager, do not have to motivate them. They’re already motivated. What you must do is to find their trigger and tap it to fulfil company goals and objectives.
There are several factors which a manager controls which can directly influence employee motivation levels. The most significant factor among these is the manager’s relationship with each reporting member. Also, how the manager goes about creating a work culture and environment that fosters employee engagement.
Organization culture plays an integral role in enhancing employee engagement and motivation levels. Employees need an environment where they feel they’re valued and trusted, treated as adults and not micro-managed. Managers should communicate with them regularly, in a civil and respectful fashion, and offer them an opportunity to have input in all aspects of work they produce. Encourage your employees to speak up and participate in solving customer queries.
- Stop encouraging mediocrity
Managers tend to overlook the impact of some good old encouragement in improving employee engagement. Point out and highlight what your employees are doing right. Yet don’t have to be overly appreciative. Strike a balance where you don’t end up either destroying their confidence or creating a castle in the clouds for them.
Mediocrity is the bane of excellence. Push them to achieve more, cajole them, challenge them, force them to give their cent per cent and more! Don’t let your employees settle for less than the best. Period.
- Celebrate small wins
The key is to celebrate small wins, not just the big ones where your employees smash the ball out of the park. We’re not saying you should throw a full-blown party! Just a simple high-five or ‘Great job! Well done, mate’ goes a long way in keeping employee morale high and enhance employee engagement. What’s important is that they feel their efforts are being acknowledged and noticed.
Celebrating small wins goes a long way for an employee to become extraordinary. Take note!
- That “Feel Good” feeling
As a manager or supervisor, you’re directly responsible for creating a supportive environment where employee engagement is encouraged so that they can flourish and improve themselves. By having a support system in place, you can create a happy, productive workplace for your peers and employees where they feel that they belong.
Let’s take up the example of NetApp who employ one such support system.
NetApp have an internal program called “Catch Someone Doing Something Right” wherein any employee who catches another doing extraordinary things, brings it to the notice of the vice chairman, who in turn calls that employee to thank them.
Awesome, no? You can easily imagine how motivated and productive their employees must feel after being appreciated and commended at the end of the day!
- Be critical with love
Being appreciative and acknowledging the good things your employees do is fine and dandy. But what about the times when they don’t get things right? Should we ignore it?
We have to consider that we all make mistakes but that’s part of being on the road to becoming extraordinary. Constructive criticism goes a long way in keeping the confidence level of employees up while also letting them know that they made a mistake.
Take time to explain why something isn’t right rather than simply dismissing it offhand and calling it a day. By doing this, you take the sting out of your feedback, inform them where they went wrong, and what they can do to make it better.
- Laughter is the best therapy
Taking the last thought further, why not give feedback by making it a tad bit humorous? The intention is to bring levity to the situation, as these situations can be quite tense. By bringing humour to the situation, you can turn a dreaded situation into something which employees will remember and take heed of. Crack a small joke or talk about your own experience where you were in the employees’ shoes the first time they received feedback.
Qualities common in extraordinary leaders
There are certain qualities shared by leaders across the globe which when developed in employees can help them make the transformation from ordinary to extraordinary.
Being open to new ideas, techniques and processes goes a long way in helping you stand out of the crowd. If you’re not open to learning new ways of doing things, how will you impart the same to your employees? Before becoming a teacher, you have to become a student first. Modern leaders must be open and willing to listen, observe and learn constantly.
In this age, where change is constant, being willing and able to adjust to the changing status quo is paramount. Adapt and rise to challenges. Set an example for your employees showing them the way to success.
Mould yourself into becoming more flexible. Be more fluid in your workstyle where you’re able to work with people of different talents, temperaments and behaviour styles.
Bring innovation to the fore. You should be willing to try different things. Make – try it, fix it, and do it your mantra! And encourage your employees to do the same.
Being sensitive to your employees’ needs, interests and concerns would help you put a more delicate front and make you more approachable. Start being more keen and receptive!
Give your employees the opportunity to learn and apply their knowledge. Be open to their suggestions about how you can create a harmonious work environment and fine-tune the existing system in place. Be flexible!
Give an extra measure of education and learning to your employees. Share an extra byte of enthusiasm with them. Challenge them to give a little extra something in their relations with co-workers and customers. All these little extras would end u