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Coaches Diary: Motivating Staff – Is This The Key To Enhanced Profits?


Negativity like panic is infectious; this week Olivia Stefanino helps a manager overcome staff resistance and bad-feeling.

Diane had always been enthusiastic and passionate about her job as a financial advisor. Sitting in my office nursing a cup of coffee, Diane told me that she was motivated by the belief that she helps safeguard her clients’ future health and wealth.

But she was finding it increasingly difficult to keep herself motivated since she had switched companies in order to take on a management role.

During her first three months in the new job, Diane had been dismayed by the amount of negativity displayed by the unenthusiastic members of her team. And she had been quick to learn that negativity like panic is infectious, and that she too was beginning to succumb to its detrimental effects.

Clearly Diane needed to change tack and fast if her first job in management was to be a success. Diane and I had first met two years ago, when she had wanted help in defining her career path. While she was still on track with her goals, she was afraid that this unexpected obstacle with her sales team would take her off course.

I reminded Diane that much of her enthusiasm for her industry came from her own attitude and belief that she was helping her clients. Also motivating her was the knowledge that by achieving the work goals she set herself monthly, the large commission cheques she was earning were taking her closer to her personal five year goal of owning a property in France.

Having a personal reason for doing her job made each day more rewarding, Diane agreed. I then asked Diane if she could describe to me her staff’s personal goals.

Her hand flew to her mouth in shock as the realisation of the cause of her predicament began to dawn. Gently, I explored with Diane the fact that being a manager means much more than setting targets and writing reports.

For Diane to be an outstanding manager, she would need to take on the role of motivational coach with each of her staff. First, I suggested that she should sit down with each member of staff and ask them to outline their hopes and aspirations.

Most people, I explained, fail to spend time working out what they want from life. As a result, they feel that life happens to them – without their having any say in it. Often, these same people resent their bosses, who appear to be demanding and unreasonable.

By working with each individual to align their goals with those of the company, Diane’s team would soon find their attitude changing for the better.

Diane’s second task would be to work with her staff to create personal action plans for each of them and each month, I suggested, she could organise a quick and informal appraisal to make sure that they were meeting their own personal targets.

Equally importantly, by understanding her staff’s personal goals, Diane would be able to talk to them in the ‘language’ of their aspirations, which would enable her to create a deeper rapport with them all.

Finally, I suggested that Diane would benefit from a little attitude reconstruction of her own. She agreed that perceiving her staff as negative and unenthusiastic was interfering with her ability to respect and lead them.

I took Diane through a quick visualisation process in which she told her staff how unimpressed she had been with them. The next step was for her – in her imagination to forgive each person for his or her negativity. Finally, she made a pact with each one to drop her judgement of them and instead, she decided that she would focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Diane looked relieved as she left my office, for she knew that by becoming more of a motivational coach and less of a traditional manager she would be able to create a highly successful team.

Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach, who works with blue chip organisations, SMEs and individuals. To find out more – and to download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power”, visit


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