I am a sucker for a good come-back movie. I love seeing the underdog win over the well-funded or obnoxious favorite. The storyline of hard work, honesty, faith and little bit of luck stir something real deep inside of us. Sports-related plot lines especially seem to captivate. Think about movies like Rudy, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, Rocky and Invincible. Are you feeling good? Smile on your face?
These movies show us that skills, bravery, teamwork and willpower can come together around a common goal. Even for those superstar athletes depicted, the concept of team is learned and he/she realizes that winning cannot be done alone. Years ago, I worked for an organization that would show a movie on Fridays for the sales department. The movie would play on all of the televisions in the sales area, which normally showed CNBC, for about 2-3 hours in the afternoon. The idea was to play movies like this to inspire teams of people. I loved walking through the department during the last 10 minutes of the movie. As much as people were working during the majority of the movie, they could not help but stop cold for those last 10 minutes. Eyes fixed, slight smiles on their faces and the occasional fist of victory lifted (of course, Boiler Room was shown often, too, and that doesn't quite have the same effect).
People want to be inspired. They want to know that their efforts matter. They want to be valued and encouraged in those success areas. They want to see how they fit into the whole. They want to know that they can win.
Since we all are people-people, what is our role in building upon this natural inclination? We know that those employees we serve seek success in effort. How can they see how what they do matters for the team? Can this be deepened or better defined? How can you make the pathway clearer? This is not existential in questioning (some would say I am not that deep to go there anyway), but rather practical in nature. I would submit a couple of ideas.
First, train directors, managers and supervisors to assess talent. We have to show these managers what to look for and how to determine the skills and abilities on their teams. Often, we just let them figure it out, but most times, they don't. Who taught you how to know what you truly have to work with? No one? Well, then, learn first. Seek a mentor or coach of your own and then pass along what you are learning to a director. Inspiration for your teams will settle in deeply if those team members know that you know them. You will be thinking of ways to set them up for success. They will rise to the occasion because you knew, sometimes even better than they did, where to put them and how to use their competencies.
Management will be proactive in this posture, which may also be a complete departure from how it's worked to date. So what? Show flexibility and effort. If we seek this in our staff, we should represent that. We can share with the executive team what it means to inspire based upon lasting criteria rather than a flash in the pan.
Secondly, celebrate. The successes, the wins, the records set...all of it. Pizza on Fridays is not celebrating anything proactive. That is a reactive gesture. "Aren't you glad the week is over?" "Thank God we only have two more hours of work after this pizza." "Pizza, again?!" Is this what we really hope to send as messaging or hear in return? I doubt it.
Celebration is not just about the past. When we celebrate a birthday, we appreciate all that a person is and has done over the past year and further back. But also, the fact that he/she is with us today and what we wish for and know this person will be about as the next year progresses. Wouldn't it be sad to say, "Happy Birthday! We know that this past year was okay and we really don't expect more from you, but we're celebrating your mediocre life" (that has a bit of a greeting card flow to it, doesn't it?). We choose to celebrate to reflect on success and to establish a future plan of building upon it. It sets a tone and creates a vision of what success should look like.
People want to have impact. The movies mentioned early on resonate because of that basic premise within people. It's why a song like, "Roar" by Katy Perry means something. We want to be recognized for our strength, for our contribution, for our relationship-impact, for our value. It is something we can do for our teams.
Get in the frame of mind. Close your door. Stand on your desk. Play this video at a loud volume. Get inspired and roar. Really. Out loud. Roar like a lion. Okay, I can't swear that this is exactly what you should do to get started, but I am loving the visual...