Most of us recognise when employees are not motivated and the drain it can have on an organisation. Some of us may have experienced the excitement, thrill, satisfaction and enjoyment of being part of a motivated team and even better, leading a motivated team and the stream of positive effects it brings to an organisation. If only there was a magic formula to create the level of motivation that so many leaders and managers are craving in their teams…
The trouble is there isn’t one single thing that can be highlighted as being the key to keeping employees motivated. The task is a multi-facetted one and the only one thing for sure is that it is a task that sits fairly and squarely in the leader/manger’s lap.
The first thing to be absolutely clear about is that money (salary and even incentives) is not the answer. Research over many decades on the subject of employee motivation clearly indicates that money is way down the list of antecedents. Money is almost a hygiene factor (something that doesn’t necessarily provide positive work satisfaction but without it results in dissatisfaction), along with a reasonable work surroundings and facilities – as long as it is reasonable then motivation will come from other places.
The answers are in providing for some fundamental needs that all employees have – actually not just employees, all of us who work want a bit of this stuff.
It all hinges around value. We all want to know that what we do is worthwhile and valued. There are a couple of aspects to this:
(1) We see that what we do is valuable
(2) Our peers recognise the value we bring and
(3) That our managers and leaders acknowledge this value.
When the value ducks line up, then we find that an employee recognises their contribution to the organisation, through that contribution there is experience of belonging and these both lead to the desire to experience more of this and so ambition grows and with that ambition willingness to expand themselves not just in terms of the work they currently undertake but also to broaden their horizons through learning to move into new and elevated work experiences.
So just how can we get the value ducks in a line? I’ve always looked at it as sequences of initiatives which are backed by leader/manager behaviour.
What’s the goal? If you are on the bus, you really want to know where it is going!
Leaders need to clearly articulate their vision and be able to break that out into digestible chunk’s by department, team and individuals within the organisation.
What’s needed? Now we know where we are all going, what support is needed to get us there?
Training is a great place to start – what skills do employees need, what new skills might be helpful? One of the “value” results mentioned earlier is that people want to expand! Conduct a needs analysis, talk to your employees, formally or informally and then be prepared to act on the outcome. If people in an organisation clearly see that their opinions and suggestions are taken seriously and acted upon, then their sense of belonging and contribution grows. Training is one aspect, but support can roll over into cultural stuff like tweaking surroundings, ensuring the equipment works and providing for time out, not just something like a lunch or retreat room but celebrating birthdays or other milestones. Setting goals and targets are an integral part of this area. They need to be a stretch but also realistically attainable. Incentives can play a part at this level. Don’t forget that you may find employees that display qualities indicating high potential – nurture these, coach them or have them coached; they may well be your future leaders.
Implementation and communicate. Having established what support is needed thereafter a program of implementation can be developed. Where possible, involve employees in the implementation process and make sure the whole picture, or as much as possible is communicated and regularly updated and communicated again. Communication is such an important part of the entire process, it can be done in meetings, training sessions, emails, staff gatherings and social events and simply one to one. It is where employees get to see a bigger picture and recognise how their part fits into it.
Leader Behaviour. It would be easy to spend a lot of time here but we would be talking more about leadership effectiveness and it might be better to save that for another blog. The point here is that there are several things a leader or manager can do that are directly related to employee motivation:
• Communicate, communicate, communicate! If you missed the point, this is important.
• Be present. Let people see you’re involved, talk to people and take an interest in their work and their personal life – you don’t need all the details but be interested and be seen.
• Don’t be a jerk. Be honest, fair, respectful, trustworthy, encouraging, approachable, and accountable and just as an experiment try fun, humour and a light touch.
As Bartercard members we have tremendous opportunity to implement employee motivation programs without them being a drain on cash flow. From consultants and trainers through to venues for staff functions and gifts and rewards for incentive programs, we all have the opportunity to put our trade dollars to productive use in developing and maintaining an employee motivational program that delivers results across the entire organisation.
Gary coaches, mentors and provides business counsel to individuals and businesses throughout Australia. He is an accomplished facilitator and engaging speaker and is available for conferences, away days and internal training sessions.