I work for a small charity as manager of a home for people with learning difficulties. I moved into social work from the civil service four years ago and wonder if I was promoted too quickly. I find dealing with unmotivated staff who rarely stay for long extremely tough. I often end up fire-fighting a crisis and have little time for management.
Inspiring people who lack motivation and commitment is not easy. But it is possible so don’t accept difficulties as a fait accompli. Identify the exact nature of the problem (you have already started to do this) and develop a plan to confront and deal with it. Focus on key issues and work with your team to improve them.
You are more likely to achieve buy-in if you begin by aiming for short-term success. Once people see positive changes they are more likely to warm to long-term objectives. By outlining clear aims and goals to staff, you will feel in greater control. Involving your team in the process will give them more ownership and accountability.
You may have to resign yourself to the fact that discontent is inevitable at some point or another. Managing this is an important part of your role. You can help create a more vibrant atmosphere by celebrating success when it happens.
Improved communication and a willingness to listen are key. Motivation doesn’t just happen – you need to win respect first and by taking an interest in others’ views you’ll be showing that their opinion matters too.
Jo Causon is director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute.