Knowing how and when to push your staff

By Adam Blanch

The trick is learning how to push with our staff and inspire them to push with us.

Newton's third law of motion states, "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction." It's just as true with people. That doesn't mean we can't get more from our employees at those times when we really need it. The trick is learning how to push with our staff and inspire them to push with us.


If we need our staff to go the extra mile for a while, they need reasons to do it. And they need to be able to do it without losing too much of their time. A clear explanation of why it's required combined with a specific request for exactly what's needed, how long it's needed for, and what you are willing to give in return, will work with the overwhelming majority of staff.

The next part is to negotiate. If you are asking your staff to go above and beyond, you will have greater success if you negotiate with each person individually so it's not overly disruptive and they have some control over it.

The third phase is to figure out how you can support them during that time. Have lunch delivered for the whole team so they get time with their kids in the morning. Increase the 'fun' at work to help release the stress, or hire a masseur to give your team a neck rub at lunchtime.

Finally, reward them. Time off in lieu once things settle down, movie tickets or Friday night drinks on the house will do just fine. It's their lifestyle you are taking away, so give them some 'lifestyle highs' in return. You'll generally find that however much you spend is far less than what you gain in return.


The golden rule is to push your staff only when it's an absolute necessity. If you ask too much too often, it will backfire and you'll be spending time and money replacing and retraining staff. However, that doesn't mean you can't lift productivity, engagement and morale at other times by using the same strategies.

Wouldn't you be more likely to stick around and work harder for a boss who gave back generously whenever he asked you to push a bit harder? You're either pushing with or pushing against.


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