If you’re running a business you’ll know it’s lonely at the top — but it’s often on your shoulders to inspire everybody else around you.
But, like everybody else, you can’t be 100 percent motivated all the time. There’ll be days when you dream of taking off rather than taking the company to the next level.
We caught up with Debrah Stanton, Gold Coast Women in Business 2017 awardee, and current General Manager at First Class Accounts — where she looks after the head office franchise team and a network of 180 franchisees.
Needless to say, that’s a lot of people to keep motivated!
The Pulse: As a leader of a fairly big business with a lot of people, how do you go about motivating them?
Debrah: By investing lots of time listening to understand what makes them tick.
Most people are driven by a combination of external and internal motivators.
External motivators are things like financial rewards, recognition or promotions, and internal ones are things like beliefs or interests.
Knowing what ratio of these motivators is at play is crucial to helping motivate them.
Knowing what ratio of these motivators really fires a person up is key to understanding how to help motivate them.
The Pulse: Is it not all about the money then?
Debrah: Sure, a big pay cheque or profit can help get you out of bed in the morning but I think everyday appreciation is very important too.
We tend to think of this as something only employees need, but business owners and senior managers value this kind of recognition too.
So, I’d encourage everyone — regardless of your seniority — to respect each other and acknowledge deserving colleagues because it helps create the kind of environment everyone works well in.
The Pulse: What effect can lacklustre leadership have on a business?
Debrah: Every business owner has days when it feels like a total drag. This is totally normal. However, it’s damaging when they can’t shake off their slump and it starts rubbing off on others.
The best leaders are the ones who give themselves permission to fall apart but have the self-awareness to figure out what they need to fix themselves quickly.
For me, having a good cry or a rant to a trusted advisor followed by a relaxing spa helps me recharge and be at my best again.
No one wants to work in a place where the boss is giving out bad vibes so it’s vitally important they learn what they need to snap out of stagnation.
The Pulse: So, who can the boss turn to when they need to let off steam?
Debrah: We’re all human and it’s important for everyone to be able to air frustrations. However, for business owners and senior managers, I think it’s best to vent away from the office.
Talking to someone objective who can help you dig yourself out of a rut, such as a professional mentor or a psychologist, is the most positive way forward.
Saying this, if you’re struggling with difficult personal stuff, then I think it’s important to share this with your colleagues so they can support you and cut you a little slack.
The Pulse: How important is goal setting to maintaining motivation?
Debrah: If you don’t set goals then you’ve got nothing to work towards, measure yourself against, and celebrate when you hit them.
Goal-setting and business planning needn’t be painful, you just need tuck away a little time to write a few pages about what you want to achieve, how exactly you’re going to achieve it, and in what time frame.
The Pulse: How important is a healthy lifestyle and outside interests for work motivation?
Debrah: Vitality is so important when you run a business, so you need to take care of your body and mind.
Eating well, exercising regularly, and doing things outside of work that feeds your soul helps you bring your best into the office.
I know how easy it is to work 24/7, but burn out will totally blow your motivation, so don’t forget to take some time out.
The Pulse: How do you know when it’s not just a case of a bad day but something more serious?
Debrah: If someone is withdrawn or seriously disengages with work for longer than a couple of weeks then it’s a bit of a red flag.
It’s difficult to give specific advice about how to deal with it because each situation can be quite different.
I’d recommend reaching out to them in multiple ways, and if you’re genuinely worried about their welfare, then share your concerns with senior colleagues and call in professional support if you need it.