• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

Inspiration Gives Momentum To Our Dreams

A workplace with motivated and inspired employees can do wonders for an organization!

Photo Credit :


Inspiration means different things to different people. When you ask this question "What inspires you at your workplace?" you will find people come with different perspectives. The initial response is typically around having a safe and decent working environment, good work profile, a handsome compensation, a good annual bonus, promotions, hike and so on. These are important to almost everyone but are these factors the one which inspires someone, certainly not. Perhaps a bit of deeper conversation can help in understanding what inspires them. Employers definitely need to understand what are some of those factors. They need to go beyond providing the hygiene factors and ensure those factors driving inspiration at work are met.

We typically equate being happy to being inspired

Let us take some scenarios and understand if this is happening because people are happy or inspired:

Scenario 1) Person A is a disciplined employee, comes to office regularly on time and stays for as much hours as required without complaining. He typically leaves office after his boss has left. He manages a large team and ensures the work is done on time and is of good quality.

Scenario 2) Person B has been with the company for over 10 years now. She is seen as a loyal employee due to long tenure, has been promoted mostly at the average timeline or sometimes a year more. She has never complained and keep working long hours and as demanded by her boss.

In the first one, he shows up on time and does what it takes, ensures he manages perception with boss and gets the work done. In the second one, she doesn't leave the company whether the promotion is on time or delayed. In both the scenarios, the first impression is that the employee is inspired and hence is committed.

The above two scenarios cover some of the typical cases and if you look around, you will be able to identify many such people at your workplace. Definitely, the employee is happy or satisfied or not complaining. This can happen because of many reasons - they are getting most of their hygiene factors fulfilled, there is a sense of job security, there is a comfort area which they don't want to leave, they are also growing with time and perhaps drawing a decent salary, there is a fear of uncertainty that keeps them in the current organization.

How do we know if people are really inspired?
The key question to ask is "Are these people making an impact?"

This can be further extended by asking:

- Are they aligned to the vision/mission/purpose of the organization? Do they understand it clearly?
- Are they passionate about their role or they are just sustaining their job?
- Are they bringing their best to make a difference to the end customer?
- Are they innovating at work and bringing creative solutions to tackle a problem?
- Are they proactively highlighting risks and solving issues or tossing things around?
- Do they feel empowered for decision making or they are just order takers?

If the answer to any or most of these questions is "No", then obviously the employees are not inspired though they can be happy with the situation.

5 things that Employers can do to make the workplace truly inspirational:

1. Decentralize decision making: 
Strong leaders often make the mistake of owning up all the decisions to themselves. They feel jittery when they are not in control. People quickly get tuned to this culture and avoid making decisions themselves. They wait, they delay and they don't take accountability of someone else's decision. The fear of compliance and perception with their boss drives them. Managers don't grow up to become future leaders if they are not empowered to make decisions themselves. Hence, it is very important to decentralize decisions to different management layers and then make people accountable for their decisions. This will bring inclusiveness, a sense of ownership and pride that they run their own business and not just a salaried employee.

2. Reward honesty: If the culture is perception driven, everyone will inflate and present what they do, will never be the harbinger of bad news and will keep delaying things even if it hurts. If risks and issues are highlighted proactively and in timely manner, it is much easier to manage them. Yet the fear of being tagged as the "bad guy" will stop people to act. People are inspired if they know that they won't get picked up for bringing bad news and in fact will be rewarded or recognized for being honest.

3. Acknowledge contributions: People stop innovating when they can live without innovating and keep getting rewarded through bonus, hikes and promotions. Hence, it is important that they also get acknowledged or rewarded for contributions beyond assigned work. If the management is just focused on meeting numbers, people will also just try to make up the numbers. Inherently, most people are creative but the same needs to be acknowledged by management. People feel inspired if their contributions are held in good regards.

4. Communicate the purpose: The tenure of an employee is not equivalent to he/she understanding the purpose of an organization. People need to be reminded time and again on the overall goals of the organization. Sometime organizations also steer their goals to meet changing market conditions and the same needs to be understood at all the levels. If people don't understand the purpose, they will only work for money or personal growth and will not contribute actively to the growth of the organization. Hence, helping them align keeps them inspired as they feel inclusive.

5. Challenge the status quo: Creating an environment of "comfortable discomfort" is important. It is important to have a comfortable environment for people to perform. Yet, it is important to challenge the status quo so that people are alert and agile. They don't settle in a comfort zone. People are inspired when their work is not monotonous and boring rather when it is challenging and overall environment appreciates this sense of problem solving approach.

Inspiration is a complex topic yet it fuels the dreams of people. An inspired workplace is one, where you don't go every morning to spend your day or just to earn your salary. It is a place you look forward to reaching every morning to make a difference to your clients, your employer and above all yourself.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
employees workplace

Rahul Gupta

Rahul is passionate about Strategy and Change Management. He has around 15 years of experience in Management Consulting, Business Transformation and driving Strategy and M&A across multiple industries, business domains, technologies & geographies. Rahul holds an MBA from XLRI and is a Gold Medalist in Engineering from Jadavpur University

More From The Author >>