Written by Roydon Gibbs
You may have been told that if you want to get the best out of your staff one of the things you need to do is encourage them.
How do you do that?
Making vague and shallow comments like, 'keep up the good work' and 'good job, well done' are not specific enough to be useful.
Real encouragement boosts the energy, commitment and focus that people have for their work. To do that you need to use encouragement to fuel their inner resources.
So what are those inner resources and how do you fuel it?
Professor Fred Luthans and his colleagues recommend you focus on four ideas with the acronym HERO:
Be careful not to confuse the idea of hope with the vague fantasies of wishful thinking. Genuine hope requires action and has been described as a combination of will-power and way-power. When you have genuine hope, you harness your willpower to get things done, set goals, know how to get to your goals and create alternative ways to get to them if the way is blocked.
Fuel the inner resource of hope by helping staff set challenging goals and create workable plans to achieve them. Encourage them by saying, 'I believe you can find the way to get it done'.
Often described as confidence, genuine efficacy should not be confused with the arrogance of the ‘know it all’ who claims to be the best at everything. Genuine efficacy comes from believing you are able to do something based on your experience of being competent. When you have genuine efficacy you are prepared to set goals, seek challenge, are self-motivated, apply effort and persevere.
Fuel the inner resource of efficacy by setting staff up with opportunities to successfully learn new skills and tasks. Encourage them by saying, "I'm confident you can develop the ability to do it well'.
Resilient people bounce back from setbacks. When you have genuine resilience you have a realistic awareness of adversity and setbacks. You see them as both risk factors and challenging opportunities for growth and success. You develop strategies to make the most of your assets and to deal with your liabilities.
Fuel the inner resource of resilience by giving staff the freedom to take risks and make mistakes along with creating strategies to overcome setbacks. Encourage them by saying, 'We all experience set-backs, let's see this as an opportunity to learn and make progress'.
Optimism is sometimes confused with simplistic positivity or ‘Pollyannaism’. However, genuine optimism is a realistic and flexible way of explaining why specific events, positive or negative, happen. Rather than a relentless pursuit of positivity, Luthans and his colleagues say that genuine optimism ‘represents a strong lesson in self-discipline, analysis of past events, contingency planning, and preventative care’. One approach to developing optimism in the workplace suggest:
1. Being lenient in your evaluation of past events
2. Actively appreciating the positive aspects of our current situation
3. Routinely emphasising possible opportunities for the future.
Fuel the inner resource of optimism in your staff by taking a realistic and flexible approach to situations. Encourage them by saying, 'Let’s not ignore what went wrong, but now let’s focus on what has worked and look for opportunities to move forward' (in your own words of course).
Talking to your staff that way every day will make you an engagement hero.
Interested in a workshop on engagement for your team or leaders?