Are you having trouble inspiring your team?

I had a very revelatory conversation the other day with the owner of an estate agent. He told me it was impossible to get his team interested in either the marketing the company was doing or in anything outside “their job” of getting some sales or lets agreed. He said they were delighted to work at his company, but we’re simply not interested in anything outside “their job”.

Incredible. This guy owns probably the best and most interesting estate agent in his town, where the team know they are privileged to work, and yet he can’t get them interested in promoting the very things that make the company such a privilege to work for.

So what’s going on there?

Two things, I’d say.

Number one, the staff clearly don’t see promoting the company as part of their job. They feel they just need to turn up, do some work for the required amount of hours, and then go home. I suppose they feel they are doing what is required of them, and they don’t want the distraction of other stuff taking them away from generating income. And I bet they are not actually that unusual in failing to see any value for themselves in making what they see as an extra effort.

Number two, the owner has clearly not told his team from the outset – by which I mean interview stage – exactly what is expected of them. And is clearly not inspiring them now into seeing any benefit for themselves in taking an interest beyond doing deals.

But think about it: all the stuff that makes the company cool; all the stuff that wins the company more and better instructions than its competitors; all the stuff that effectively helps the negotiators earn so well… are they seriously not interested in all that? Of course they are.

Very simply, it’s a management issue. This team is not being to managed in a way that would have every member delight in telling the world about the cool things the company does. What an absolute waste of energy. Of course they need telling, and in no uncertain terms, that promoting the company they work for, being ambassadors for it, is a non-negotiable part of working there – if they can’t be bothered promoting the company, then why the hell should it employ them? – but if they are being managed in way that keeps them small, there is little chance they will start acting big.

I’ve never worked with a single person who didn’t want to grow and develop, but I have met a few who either hadn’t yet realised it, or were never given the chance. Their managers also complained, but were essentially creating the problem themselves.

Don’t let that be you.