Inspiration Points

Get the Message

If not by being charismatic, just how do you rev up a work force? It starts with conveying your company's purpose to employees, says Thompson. Workers crave meaningful jobs; they want their efforts to make a difference. When they know what they are working toward, they will put forth full energy on a regular basis.

Communicate your purpose to employees in ways they'll understand. Plenty of bosses falter here. In a general sense, most business owners know their company's purpose, but when it comes to conveying the message, they get tongue-tied. "Talk from the heart; that's what inspires people," advises Cindy Lindsay, director of the organizational psychology program at the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles.

Once you've spread the word, it's time to act. "A lot of inspiration comes down to modeling," says Thompson. "You can't put lofty goals up on the wall and then act with no regard to them. You have to show your purpose through your actions. The best way to pump up workers is to let them see you're serious about your values. This spirit is infectious."

Take just those steps, Thompson says, and you're well on the road to creating an inspired work force: "You'll begin to see a difference," he says.

While employees at businesses with altruistic missions--natural products company Tom's of Maine with its all-natural philosophy, for example--may be easily filled with inspiration, will the same formula work at more ordinary companies? You bet, assures Thompson. "Any company that is succeeding economically is serving a purpose," he says. "Make [your company's] purpose clear, and you're on your way to inspiring workers."

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Inspiration Points.

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