One of the top challenges of leading change in your organization as you leave the “bloody waters” of direct competition to create new markets and demand in the open spaces of “blue ocean”, is getting your people to “opt-in” and “buy” your leadership. Motivating your employees to reach their full potential and give their best efforts is a significant challenge. After all, when most of us are given the choice, we tend to prefer sticking to the status quo in the mistaken belief that it promotes stability for ourselves and our company. Change is scary business.
However, if we want to be innovative and find our way to less competitive, open market spaces and maximize both our profit potential and the utility that we offer our customers, we must not only accept change, we must lead it.
It’s absolutely imperative that as leaders we find a way to sell our leadership to the key influencers within our business. We need these key players “on our side” so that they can help to “tip the scale” and help to motivate all employees to get on board and commit to being fully focused team members. Blue Ocean leaders lead change and engage employees so that they “opt-in”. These fully engaged team members take ownership and engage our customers who in turn engage with our non-customers and bring them on board. In this way, companies can grow both rapidly and at a lower cost.
The following 3 steps, inspired by ‘Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant’, can help you to get your employees to “opt-in” to your leadership and fully engage with your customers.
- Place Emphasis on the Acts and Activities of Your Leaders
Leaders can boost the motivation and results of their team by providing regular, constructive feedback on their team members? acts and actions. This practice should be implemented at each level of leadership so that each level focuses less on the personalities, values or abilities of individuals but rather coaches them on what concrete steps they need to take to improve their performance. By giving guidance and direction, any employee and any leader can improve their performance over time. This will motivate employees and leaders at all levels to constantly seek to improve their performance and give their best efforts.
- Ask Your Employees to Help You Help Them
Ask your direct reports and other team members what they need from you to be able to perform their job the best. After all, who knows the most about what is needed to accomplish a task or reach a goal than the one who must perform it? Sometimes, despite their best intentions, some managers hold their employees back and prevent them from reaching their full potential by not giving them what they need, when they need it, in the amount that they need. Your own people are your best resource for what it takes to serve your customers, cut costs, or innovate operations. So, give them a stake in the results by seeking their direct input.
- Empower Your People at Every Level
Micromanagement kills innovation and it can lead to resentment, pettiness and even laziness among employees. Many of us have had the misfortune of either working for such a company or being one of its customers. For example, as a customer, perhaps there was a problem with your order, and when you contacted the company to try to fix it, no one could help you, or it was a big hassle. As an employee, you could see where improvements could be made to lower your employer’s costs or improve service to customers, but the organization had no structure for you to make your suggestions heard or you had no power to effect change. Eventually, you stopped shopping there or you stopped putting forth your best effort and you just started putting your time in so you could collect your pay cheque. This is a common scenario at many companies, especially larger ones, and in time many of these companies will ultimately fail.
You can motivate your employees to put forth their best efforts and claim ownership by empowering them at all levels of management. Your front line managers should be serving your customers, not their bosses. They should be empowered to make decisions that meet the customers? needs and solve their problems. The middle managers in your organization should be there to coach rather than dominate and control your front line and senior management should be focused on the larger goals and mission of your company rather than micromanaging day to day business operations.
By following these three steps, your employees will take ownership of your company and their actions. They will become focused on seeking ways to improve and innovate the day to day operations of your company, which will help your company to grow rapidly while decreasing costs and increasing service to your customers.
How can you use Blue Ocean Leadership to help your organization sail into new market space? If the idea seems too big to contemplate, talk to us about our Leadership Coaching programs and how we can help you navigate ahead.