Get the people part right and build a motivated team


After years of managing my own businesses and listening to many hundreds of others talking about theirs, I can confidently say that people management is the trickiest part of running a business – and yet it is the most rewarding in those moments when you get it right!

There isn’t a business that doesn’t involve people in some form or another. Even a highly tech-based business such as Amazon employs 560 000 people (and 45 000 robots, but more about that another time).

Size does count though, and in my experience many people leave corporate employment to get away from ‘being just a number’. We want to be recognised for who we are and what we do. This can make smaller companies very attractive, if you play your people cards right.

As leaders we all too often make the mistake of thinking that it’s all about money, yet deep down, people want more than that. We all want to be seen.

So, if money isn’t the answer how can we create a team that is motivated at work in other ways? How can a business attract, inspire and retain good people even when the money for salaries is tight?

The starting point is to share the business vision and purpose in a way that is meaningful to others. This compelling vision statement or ‘why’ is the thing that binds us in good times and in bad. If you get it right, it becomes what people come to work to do. The classic, inspirational Nasa mission statement “we are all here to put a man on the moon” is the benchmark to strive for.

Once you have crafted, and shared your inspiring vision statement, it’s time to show how each person is an important link in this chain. Make sure that this chain includes literally everyone , from the cleaner to the CEO. It can start with simple “I see you as an important part of our company purpose, and without you we would be one link in the chain missing” . Everyone is seen and respected. Everyone has an important role to play.

It never stops. It is a repeating cycle of communication. The anchor point can simply be a regular, diarised team meeting that gives everyone the opportunity to be seen and heard, and where thanks and gratitude can be expressed. They are regular reminders of the purpose and inspiring vision of the company and consistently build team spirit and a sense of belonging. Thirty to forty-five minutes a week in exchange for a loyal, inspired and happy workforce? Not a bad trade, I’d say.

The outcome of this open culture of respect and recognition is that people feel seen, and when they feel seen they strive to do more and be more. When people can unite behind a shared mission and purpose, they also help each other, collaborate and work together to constantly improve the company itself.

Such a team can definitely put a man on the moon! Try it.

This issue is all about people: we reveal why it is more important to hire for attitude rather than skill and a business mentor tells us how efficient HR systems will help you hang on to the right people. On the other hand, if you are looking for a place to belong, maybe you need a tribe. Businessman David Dube reveals his tips on how to take your business from start-up to successful. If you have had your fill of self-help books, then try Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Giving A F*ck.

You’re welcome!