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Telling people why is a powerful employee motivation tool

Last week, in our continuing series on employee motivation, I shared strategy #6: get to know your people.  Today’s tip: tell people why.

Tell people why

When you tell people why, when you openly share information with your employees, then they will be invested as part of your team.  Let me give you an example.

Several years ago, I was on my way to work with a client in an isolated area of northern Quebec, I was on a flight that made three stops at remote communities before finally arriving at my destination.  I flew out from Montreal, to Val D’Or, then on to Waskaganish, before finally arriving in Chisasibi QC, population 4,500.  This was my stop, but this same plane then continued to Whapmagoostui, before turning around and traveling Chisasibi-Waskaganish-Val D’Or-Montreal again.  Anyway, on my way there, at each stop, we disembarked from the plane for about 20 minutes while it was refueled.  At one of these stops however, Waskaganish to be specific, 20 minutes elapsed and stretched into 40, and all us passengers in the small waiting room began to get more and more restless.  Forty minutes became 60, and the level of frustration audibly increased.

By this point in time, even I wanted to know the reason for the delay.  So I went up to the young man at the airline desk who gave me several evasive answers, but upon my persistent questioning, he finally told me the truth.  In fact, it turned out to be a perfectly legitimate reason: a connecting flight from another community was late, and it contained several passengers that needed to connect to our flight.  I immediately understood that because air service in these remote regions is once-daily, and hotel amenities in the communities are minimal, it is important not to miss a connecting flight when traveling in the area.

All he had to do was tell people why

Now here’s the crux of this situation – if the young man had simply made an announcement, explaining to passengers the reason for the delay, chances are that most people in the room would have immediately understood, and accepted the situation.  Instead, by the time we finally boarded the flight an hour and fifteen minutes later, passengers were angry and irritated, and still in the dark!  When you tell people why, they appreciate the information, and many times, even if they don’t like the outcome, at least they understand.

Telling people why can be a very powerful tool for employee motivation.  If you openly share information with your employees, for example, if you tell them why certain rules and procedures are in place, then they will be invested as part of your team.  Tell people why.

Well, what do you think?  Agree or disagree?  Why?  Please share your experiences and perspectives below.

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