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How to motivate your staff to take risks

Irma Hunkeler

Doing good business is all about taking risks. But how to encourage your staff to take a leap into the unknown? From 888poker.

Good businesses create environments where healthy risk-taking is encouraged and rewarded. We’re not talking about extremely dangerous moves that might put your company’s life on the line, by the way – we mean risks that work to advance the company’s progress, perhaps in the form of new product ideas or ways of solving internal problems. But, understandably, some employees are risk-averse.

While we take risks every single day without really realising it, for some workers the idea of taking a risk is anathema. They may be worried about making a mistake or looking foolish in the eyes of management. So how to encourage them to take prudent risks and, as a result, drive strong business performance? Here are some ways you can encourage staff to think differently and offer alternative ideas – helping to drive your business and meet goals in the process.

Recruit exceptional people
If you want to be a company that takes smart risks, employ people with talent and the ability to think differently – to question, push boundaries and find new ways of doing things. There are certain questions you could ask at the interview stage to sort the risk-takers from the cautious ones, such as ‘Why do you want to work here?’ and ‘How would you solve this problem?’ If you tend to get ambivalent answers to your probing questions, this suggests a candidate tends to err on the side of caution, rather than take risks. If you get sharp, specific, definitive answers, then you’re probably talking to a risk-taker.

Build risk into your core values
Look at your company’s core values and mission statement. Does it talk about taking risks, taking chances, trying new things? If not, consider changing it. Motivational words can go a long way in inspiring your staff to adopt a healthier risk attitude and be more prepared to give the unknown a try. From poster boards to weekly team meetings, motivate your employees to take risks by encouraging them to come forward with new ideas and not be afraid to try out new things. It’ll embed a culture of healthy risk in your organisation.

Reward your risk-takers
The promotion and praise of those staff who have taken a risk and succeeded is a great way to encourage other, more reticent, employees to give risk-taking a try. If someone really went out of their comfort zone on a project and took a risk that worked out, shout about it to the rest of the team. This highlights that not only do you encourage your staff to take risks, but you’ll reward them for it too. This is likely to be a key motivator.

Try and recruit staff for the long term
While some workers tend to job-hop from one role to the other, encouraging your staff to stay with you over the long term is another great way to motivate risk-taking behaviour. While you might think long-term staff are more likely to rest on their laurels rather than try new things, research from 888poker suggests that experience can help poker players make smarter risk decisions – there’s no reason to suggest this doesn’t translate to the world of work. Recruiting staff and retaining them for many years helps you develop experienced professionals who are able to weigh up risky decisions appropriately.

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