Being able to meaningfully connect with your employees is the simplest way to motivate and engage them for better performance. But how do you achieve this? At the end of the day, you are still the boss.
The age of when employees were simply seen as tools and objects within a company are (hopefully) long gone. Slave drivers are not welcome, or at least they shouldn’t be, inside the modern workplace. This is because we’ve learned that what really drives people is not just money, but actual emotions. In order to get as much productivity as possible from your employees, you want them to be happy. And if your employees are happy, you have a more motivated workplace which then means more money for your company and a positive atmosphere.
It’s apparent to anybody who walks into an office just what the situation actually is. Any potential new employee, business partner, or client will feel a tense and disturbed atmosphere when they walk among people who are doing a job they hate. By tapping into the emotions of your people, by understanding what makes them tick (and in turn, what makes them tick better) you will get loyal workers.
Work on, and control, your own emotions
The main thing needed to motivate and lead your employees is by leading by an example. In fact, you will be unable to understand their emotions if you cannot control and understand your own. This is where regulating your emotions comes in. By redirecting and soothing your negative and aggressive reactions, you will be able to grow and facilitate openness and cooperation.
Namely, by staying calm and in control, you will be able to actually be objective. Any petty arguments and frustrations, or even (understandable?) mistakes, will be handled better if you can keep your cool.
Try to emotionally step back from a situation, don’t get involved. If there is a petty squabble at the workplace, don’t lose your temper. Don’t let it get to you, but understand that the best for everybody involved is for you to stay fair and objective. Understand that things are almost never black and white.
On the other hand, perhaps you have a new hire who made a dreadful mistake. While you should definitely explain to them what kind of mistake they made, take all the options into account. By staying in control, you could be honest with yourself as well. Should you have trusted this person with this important task? Did you, in fact, make an error in judgment here?
Finally, you may face a difficult situation, perhaps a peevish and unfair business partner or client, who is accusing your company of things you didn’t do. Or perhaps the market has fallen on hard times. Whatever the case may be, by remaining stoic, you set an example of how you want your people to face adversity.
Use and show genuine empathy
If you have developed empathy, you have the ability to understand other people’s emotions. It allows you to put yourself in their shoes, and genuinely feel what they feel. As a leader, you will find that every little fragment of information that gets you closer to your employees is a godsend. You will be able to mitigate arguments more easily, relate to others, and understand their viewpoints and needs.
You may find your star employee, the most hardworking and ambitious of your workers, has changed their behavior. Their performance may be lower, they may have developed a short temper, or they are simply a walking cloud of negativity in the office. Empathy allows you to understand what this person is thinking, and what’s going on in their life. Just because they’re acting out of character now doesn’t mean they can’t pull through.
Now, of course, you shouldn’t pry into their private life or become best buddies, but what you should do is make them aware of their recent behavior, and show a little compassion and understanding. In this way, you not only help another human being, you also move closer to getting your all-star employee back.
Improve social skills and deal with awkwardness
Social skills are just that – skills. This means you can work on them, improve them. A big part of figuring out which emotions motivate people is by actually knowing how to read a person, and how to be persuasive. It’s all about communication and reading signs. Empathy allows you to understand emotions, to feel them. Social skills allow you to actually notice these in the first place. Both together (among other things) lead to emotional intelligence.
Now, social skills are pretty useful in a business environment, no question about that. But it’s also very useful within the company itself. These skills obviously allow you to communicate what you think to other people, and to do it with tact and clarity. However, it can also help you introduce a new hire into a group.
As an example, let’s say an individual has a good idea to present at a meeting, but isn’t the best speaker. If you have worked on your social skills, and spent time on behavior management strategies, you will be able to look past this person’s awkwardness and evaluate their idea as a good one.
Understanding your employee’s emotions is an important step to advancing them as professionals. Greater profits, better morale, and an overall higher sense of wellbeing at your place of work can be accomplished if you tune in to your employee’s motivations and emotions. Remember to nurture empathy, and to differentiate anxiety from lack of capability. Learn to regulate your own emotions first, which will help you solve any workplace conflicts that may arise.
Author: Emily is a business psychologist with a passion for marketing. Researching, exploring and writing are her favorite things to do. Besides that, she loves animals, music and traveling.