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Three simple steps to motivate people to give you their best

/ 04:10 AM June 27, 2022

Any person can be motivated to become a superstar at what they do. What that means is with the right motivation and the right circumstances, we can empower ordinary people to achieve the extraordinary and accomplish the impossible.

As a business leader, if you don’t know how to motivate people effectively, if you are missing the keys, you may be wasting half of your time and energy and that of your business. And your work will feel like an uphill battle. You will become exhausted, and may even lose motivation yourself.

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As the “mentor of the giants”—as Fortune described me, who has coached, consulted, and advised many famous business leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs, and the presidents of some of the world’s largest companies—I see every day how fundamental it is to motivate people properly to get your business to the next level. You could have the talent of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos, but if you do not know how to motivate people, you will never achieve extraordinary levels of success and you will never build the business you are capable of building.

I will share with you some of the fundamental building blocks of motivation so you can use them to get the best out of the people you work with.

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Redefine your purpose

It all starts and ends with “why.” I was advising the global CEO, who is also a member of the owner family of one of the largest food conglomerates, together with the leadership teams and CEOs of all their brands on their global expansion a few years ago. After one of our workshops together, he approached me and said: “Thanks for opening my eyes to why purpose is so fundamental in everything we do, and how to apply this practically to our global expansion strategy.”

I am happy to report that they have now officially joined the top 10 of their industry on a global scale.

What do I mean by purpose? I mean the “why.” Why should you exist as a company? What’s your reason for being—now and in the future? It is not enough that you had a reason in the past. You need to constantly check if that reason, that purpose, is still valid and relevant in the world of today and tomorrow.

Why? Because otherwise, your top talent will not be motivated. And you will even have a hard time attracting and keeping new top talent.

Make your vision larger than life

There is a reason that my team and I first look at the vision of almost all our new clients after they pass through our due diligence (we only take on a limited number of new clients every year). If your vision is fluffy, not relevant, not clearly expressed, vague or ambiguous, too long, or not memorable, you can pretty much forget about building a great company.

Vision is the most overlooked factor in what makes the top 1 percent of the world’s most successful companies extraordinary.

I always tell our clients: Your vision must be so compelling, motivating, crystal-clear, concise and relevant that I can ring you or anyone in your organization at 2 a.m. and you should be able to recite your vision statement if I ask you to.

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Ask yourself: is it? If not, get to work. Or get some experts to help you with that. It’s worth it. Your vision is the North Star of your business. If it doesn’t get people motivated, how can they give you their best?

ILLUSTRATION BY RACHEL REVILLA

ILLUSTRATION BY RACHEL REVILLA

Would you be motivated to go on a trip if someone told you we are going “somewhere, but not quite sure where.” Exactly. Yet, this is precisely how most organizations define their vision statement. It’s something pretty to put on the website without much meaning.

No wonder they have a hard time getting the best out of people.

Fire the unproductive and underperforming

Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire founder of Blackstone, said it correctly when he stated that he only hired “10 out of 10s,” meaning the top people.

I have seen this again and again in my work, from Silicon Valley to Europe, from the Middle East to Asia. Your ideal culture, the one you should drive for if you are at the top, is one where 10s constantly try to outperform other 10s. It’s like having a basketball team of young Michael Jordans, LeBrons and Kobes. It’s a pleasure to go to work every day and you get a kick out of such an environment. It naturally motivates you to become the best you can be and accomplish the impossible—together. That was the magic of Google in its early days, and of Microsoft and Apple. And no wonder all three are still among the most valuable companies in the world today.

My recommendation is: start where it hurts. Fire, retire or otherwise let go of the unproductive, average performers in your organization. Why?

Here is a secret: they bring everybody down. The overall productivity of your entire organization is not the sum of all employees combined. It decreases exponentially the more underperformers you tolerate in your organization.

The ugly truth: the silent death of your business

Unfortunately, this happens a lot in the Philippines. First, most businesses in the country employ a lot more people than necessary to get the work done. And second, a lot of times, underperformers are “tolerated,” carried along as necessary evil, a kind of unavoidable cross to bear.

If this applies to your organization, think for a minute,. What kind of signals are you sending to the high achievers, the top talent? That this is a place for them? No, of course not. Sooner or later, even the ones that were highly motivated before will no longer give their best.

And then it comes: the silent death of your business. This happens when employees resign on the inside but not on the outside. This means: they trudge along, but only give you half of what they could. Think about this for a second: half! We have seen it in so many companies around the globe. It is sickening. In consequence, this means: you could do away with half of your workforce and still accomplish the same result if the remaining half were giving you their all, right?

The death of innovation

It becomes even worse. Innovation stifles in such an environment. Sooner than later, you have a hard time attracting new top talent and slowly but surely, your organization becomes a sinking ship.

We recently consulted a family business conglomerate that has businesses in different industries. As part of the family’s request that we future-proof their businesses, my team and I looked at each one of their business plans and strategic roadmaps. All of the businesses needed a lot of work, but one management team, in particular, was so underperforming and displayed such an obvious lack of caring that I recommended to the CEO and owner that they fire them immediately.

What happened? The owner came up with all sorts of reasons why they should keep them. None of them made sense. The real reason behind it was that the CEO had a hard time firing people. He wanted to be liked by everyone.

“Well,” I told him, “you have two choices: You can either be liked by everyone or build a successful business that will survive into the next generation and thrive.” Guess what he decided. INQ

Tom Oliver, a “global management guru” (Bloomberg), is the chair of The Tom Oliver Group, the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential family businesses, medium-sized enterprises, market leaders and global conglomerates. For more information and inquiries: www.TomOliverGroup.com or email
[email protected]

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