“Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate…Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence,” Vince Lombardi said many years ago. I share it with you not because he’s a fellow Wisconsinite (although that is most definitely a bonus) but because it embodies principles I believe we all need to practice in our businesses - motivation and confidence.

Most of us would consider ourselves in a similar position to the place Lombardi mentions in the first part of the quote. Chances are you created a business plan not all that long ago - probably not on a blackboard, but you get the idea - that had your employees motivated, excited and ready to help your company achieve the goals in the plan. But then…the market conditions you planned for changed dramatically, and the performance of your company and the livelihoods of your employees followed suit. The plan on its merits is no longer enough to motivate your people, while fear and uncertainty slowly but surely erode their confidence in the future.

Confidence is contagious. But so is lack of confidence. Which are you displaying to your team? As leaders, our people are looking to us for direction. This is a critical time for us to get inside our “players,” to motivate and instill in them confidence. They must see that we have optimism about the future, faith in our plan to succeed and belief that we will get through these tough times.

Are you showing confidence in your company in a way that the employees can readily see? They see our confidence by the programs we put into action and by showing the importance of their future. The real killer in this economic atmosphere is “giving up.” If the employee sees your confidence in the future, he will not stop trying to make your company succeed.

If you look atASA’s Web site, you see links that help build confidence. There is a link to a new program, “Toolbox Talks,” which is a series of 12 installments that emphasize the importance of safety in the workplace. “Toolbox Talks” was developed by ASA’s Safety Committee in alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide our industry with information, guidance and access to training resources.See ASA Newsto read about the Safety Committee’s meeting in Washington, D.C., with their counterparts from OSHA to review progress that the ASA/OSHA Alliance is making to create awareness of safe work practices, like these “Toolbox Talks.” Our Safety Committee has done an outstanding job on this project and I promise you will benefit greatly if you use this tool regularly and consistently. The message is simple…the welfare of the employee is important and integral to the future of the company.

By instituting programs like “Toolbox Talks,” employees will see they are an important part of the team effort that will meet any challenge that faces our industry. It worked for Lombardi and it will work for us.

Joe Poehling