Communication: the Key to Engaging and Motivating your People

7 October 2016

The modern sales organisation is a complex and constantly shifting mix of highs and lows. The economic uncertainty of recent times has only exaggerated those changing fortunes and moods for both leaders and employees, making the highs of expanding into new products, markets or territories even higher, and the lows of shrinking market share, increased competition and constant ‘reshuffles’ even lower.

Without proper leadership, that can leave morale and motivation across your teams ebbing and flowing with each result. Leadership has a duty to maintain high levels of motivation across teams, and a vested interest in doing so - recent reports show that 39% of employees feel underappreciated, with 77% of them claiming that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognised.

That 'recognition' is the key to improved employee motivation, boosted morale and related results lift. We've talked in other posts about how the right rewards programmes and platforms can add huge value to your interactions with employees, but here this is something even more fundamental.

Communication is vital to recognition, a foundational feeling of being seen, valued and appreciated. Clear, constant and consistent communication from leadership to a team can shape expectations of results, lead team behaviours and, perhaps most vitally, express the appreciation of leaders for their employees. A top-down culture of communicating both objectives and appreciation across an organisation can have an immense impact on morale, motivation and results.

Strategic recognition, a formalised and focused rewards programme for example, can be a hugely powerful and effective way of communicating desired outcomes clearly and consistently, bringing the value of those results to life for front line reps and driving home their role in achieving them.

But straightforward communication - particularly communicating your recognition of the value of your teams back to them - can go even further. Here are our top tips for keeping employees aware of key objectives, engaged with leadership and your organisation, and happy in their work.

1. Don't Be a Fair-Weather Communicator

Expressing your appreciation of a team's hard work is easy when the going is good. As well as automated reward platforms, a congratulatory email here or budget for a team meal there sends a clear message. Less easy but no less vital is the value and appreciation expressed when you continue to communicate regularly with your people throughout periods of difficulty or transition.

Regular bulletin-style emails from leadership across teams are a good way of keeping front line staff engaged with strategic and managerial decisions and movements. Some organisations also benefit from regular 'safe space' meetings, where staff from all levels of an organisation can attend and freely discuss their concerns or thoughts about the company, its objectives and its methods.

2. Listen More

Communication and employee engagement aren't a one way street. While sanitised, company-wide corporate comms from global comms teams have their place in multinational corporations, it's vital to remember that human interaction carries more value and cultural influence than a faceless newsletter. Talk openly and often to your people, and encourage genuine dialogue, listening as much as you speak.

3. Mean It

As a leader, you appreciate how the hard work and specialist skills of your teams are being utilised to add real value and further your organisation's objectives. Make sure you are consciously appreciating that, and make sure your people know it. Praise openly and often where it is due, ensuring that the rest of your team(s) see how employees delivering the right results in the right way are valued and rewarded. That will drive a cultural shift towards an engaged, motivated workforce who deliver real results.

It is also important to remember that although leadership can seek to shape a culture of motivation and engagement, it can't maintain that culture in a vacuum. Communication must be clear, open and regular across your hierarchy to fully benefit, and peer-to-peer recognition has a vital part to play here. A peer-to-peer recognition programme can be a cost-effective and flexible way of encouraging employees to invest emotionally in their colleagues work and results.

By creating a clear recognition structure (that could be as simple as regular meetings in which employees review and applaud the accomplishments of colleagues) channels are opened that help to engage and communicate openly with employees, engendering a shared sense of responsibility, value and pride.

Do you have a robust, integrated system that drives motivation and delivers value across your teams? We’d love to talk to you about how you currently engage and communicate with your people, and how we can help you take that to the next level. Get in touch now via the Contact page.