Inspiring Action as a Manager


In thinking of what kind of communication or dialog a manager could have with his staff that would motivate and inspire, we have come up with the following:

  1. The manager must be speaking about something that is different (otherwise, why speak at all?)
  2. The change is best expressed as a change in thinking
  3. The kind of thinking before the change should be spoken in the first person
  4. The kind of thinking that is being done after the change should be spoken in the first person
  5. The content must reflect some new “zone of responsibility” that the manager is claiming

For example:

Manager speaking:

“I want to tell you about a new realization that I’ve had. We’ve been working hard on project A, but all the while I’ve been thinking to myself that it’s truly a waste of time. I finally decided to share my thoughts with my own boss, and he said that he felt the same way.

We talked for awhile and have decided not to kill the project, but to make some substantial changes with your help .”

Another example:

“For the past few years we have been talking and talking about the importance of customer service. Yesterday, in a conversation with a consultant, I saw that while I’d been talking up a storm, I had not been leading the company in way that would allow you to get the training that was needed to positively impact the customer’s experience. Well, now that I’ve realized this, I’ve decide that this must change, and I’d like to launch a new program…”

A contra-example in response to a Senior Management Approval rating of only 36%:

“I recently read the employee feedback survey, and I think that we have done some very good work that has gone unrecognized. We should not be so down on ourselves, and criticise ourseves so much. In fact, we need to focus on the positives and I’d like us to focus on some of the good things that have happened in the past year.”

The last comment is the most telling. A manager seeks to deflect criticism by using his position to add good things on top of bad,without telling the truth about his/her real thinking or emotions. The result is a communication that leaves people flat.

A manager’s job in any communication is not to seek praise, even if it is shared with others. A manger’s job is to give praise, and take responsibility.