Listen more. Be positive. Celebrate success. Give people bacon. You’ve heard all the standard ways to motivate your employees before, and you’re tired of reading the same advice. Luckily for you, I’m tired of writing it, too.
Don’t get me wrong. I still want to help you become a better manager. I still want you to be the kind of leader others are excited to follow. I just don’t want you to feel like you’ve read this article before a thousand times.
So here are three strange, unexpected, crazy, and very effective ways to get more out of your employees than you ever thought possible.
Incentivize Failure! I know one manager who offered to pay one of his employees a $500 bonus specifically to fail at something. That might seem like an easy thing to do – after all, I could fail to eat a bathtub full of Jell-O right this minute if I really wanted to deprive myself of so much deliciousness– but in his words, “She’s just a little too unwilling to take risks. We’re a small company, and we won’t grow if we’re always worried about what might go wrong.” The failure had to be taken of her own initiative, she had to say what she’d learned from the experience – and most importantly, if he didn’t think it was a sufficiently instructive failure, he planned to tell her to fail again until she got it right. Weird? Yes. But it definitely encouraged this manager’s employee to take action without overthinking everything first. Just make sure the failure that you’re encouraging is reasonable and not a company-destroying one. Oh, and you might want to consider incentivizing success, too.
Be (Very) Occasionally Tyrannical! Perhaps you’ve heard that a higher-than-average number of CEOs are clinically sociopaths. There’s a decent chance you’ve run across at least one story of a high-powered boss behaving in ways better suited for a Viking raiding party than a boardroom. And I’m absolutely certain that your parents gave you that look of theirs whenever you did something wrong that made you wonder if you were going to live to see the morning. I’m not suggesting that you act like this all the time, but there’s no denying that all those CEOs, managers, and parents do what they do because they’ve figured out that it works. The key, as with eating cheesecake, is moderation.
And last, but certainly not least…
Disappear! Sometimes you simply have to vanish so that your employees will be forced to figure out how to do things on their own. That’s how we all taught our children to ride bicycles, and while our kids initially hate us for lying to them – (“You promised you wouldn’t let go!”) – they eventually get over it. If you pride yourself on being an attentive, supportive boss, then the occasional disappearing act might be exactly what you need in order for your employees to realize that they actually are capable of doing a lot of things on their own.
Your employees might not immediately understand why you’re doing any of these things, but they’ll probably thank you for it later. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to that bathtub of Jell-O I mentioned earlier.