Ensure the climate at work is right

On a recent trip to East London, I found myself thinking, much as I suspect we all do as we travel, of all the things that are taking place day to day, in my business life. Mostly it was about gaining more sales, increasing our customer base, then came January to March results, wider then to profitability, the up-coming budget and further out then to the close of this year’s business.

Not downhearted by any means but definitely serious, thoughtful. Making plans.

I was travelling to the London Aquatic Centre, part of the Olympic Park complex to watch some diving, something I’d never witnessed live before and a consolation for no tickets for the main events in the summer.

The centre, its surroundings, the view of the Olympic Stadium and the event itself were positively inspirational by virtue of their design, impact and promise for what was to come. The visit was genuinely uplifting and left me with some really positive views, some of them based on pride for what is being achieved in the UK, others revolving around the thinking of how to accept and then deliver on real challenges and of course the desire to go again, and be part of something great.

On reflection it was obvious that the ability to inspire others to great things, should have an obvious place in any Features > Business, or industry that was driving for better performance.

I became convinced that in my serious business thought while travelling I was forgetting the human side of us all the piece that reacts to positive stimulus such as the one I had experienced in the London Aquatic Centre. This visit also was also an instant and practical reminder of how inspiration can be used as a tool to ignite us all to think differently and deliver greater performance at home or at work.

It was also an opportunity to look inward a little, to take some steps to understand whether I was using all the tools at my disposal to activate and encourage the people I work with to aspire and achieve greater things.

Inspiring others at work is undoubtedly a challenge, often the sheer volume of what we are striving to achieve is all-consuming and eats the time that we have in the day and week.

So a natural next step would seem to be great speeches and the clash of swords? Inspirational indeed. Not necessarily. Small steps to inspire others at work could well be simpler than at first we might think, Chris Walker, a world leading change agent, (www.chriswalker.com) opens up some interesting theory regarding inspiration, observing that it happens in the workplace only when the circumstances are right, when the climate to do great things is present.

Therefore when managing and leading, one top priority has to be to create the platform for all the right circumstances to be in place.

Among a wealth of recommendations three of Walker’s observations stuck home as a starting point for anybody keen to create inspirational workplaces:

l Create a feeling of confidence: by ensuring that every team member has a real sense of purpose in their work and an understanding that every activity that they undertake is contributing to the end goals and performance of firstly the area that they work in and secondly the wider organisation.

l Ensure some challenges are present: challenge is needed to create a sense of urgency and intent with the aim of focussing on larger outcomes. Challenge is a must have for employees to aim higher and give them a goal to be stretching for.

l Deliver and encourage feedback: feedback is a real driver of inspiration as uncertainty regarding progress or a lack of recognition for genuine and sometimes creative effort will always restrict performance in the future. Feedback also keeps us all on track and able to assess where we are and how we are doing.

These three simple approaches are surely achievable in all of our work?

Take some time to look inside your own business and challenge yourself to be honest about how you are trying to raise the performance of the operation.

Do you ever think about how to inspire others? Do you think about how much of a positive impact a new approach might make in an unquestionably challenging and competitive industry and commercial environment?

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