Innovation. Integration. Motivation.
Once last time, three simple words… Each of these is extremely complex and rarely executed.
In order to win the war for global domination, we must engage both our colleagues and our employees on three key battlefields: Innovation, Integration and Motivation. This week, we will address the third of these combat zones: Motivation.
We don’t need Research to tell us that a motivated, engaged and responsive workforce is substantially more productive than unmotivated, apathetic troops. When workers feel engaged, they are more likely to work harder for the good of the company because they can see first-hand what their contributions mean to its success. Employees who work with passion and feel a deep connection to the company are the ones who drive innovation, take more initiative, deliver higher quality work and move the organization forward.
Want to encourage and inspire motivation? First, understand what motivation at work is – really.
Motivation is an employee’s intrinsic enthusiasm about and drive to accomplish activities related to work. It is that internal drive that causes an individual to decide to take action. An individual’s motivation is influenced by biological, intellectual, social and emotional factors. As such, motivation is a complex, not easily defined, intrinsic driving force that can also be influenced by external factors.
It is important for you to explicitly realize that people who work for you… are not you. They don’t think like you and they probably work differently than you. Just because you pay them a good salary doesn’t mean they’re going give 150% of their effort to the things you consider important. To inspire your troops to follow your vision and achieve remarkable goals, it is your job (as their Commander) to motivate them to want to achieve. People are driven for their own reasons, not yours. The onus is on you to discover what makes your people want to produce outstanding results and be motivated to do what you need them to do. Too often, organizations fail to pay attention to the employee relations, communication, recognition, and involvement issues that are most important to people. They put process and policy, ahead of people – critical mistake.
The importance of employee motivation cannot be over-emphasized. Ultimately, when employees are motivated productivity is increased, turnover is lower, and overall performance is improved. Great leaders encourage and inspire people to perform with energy, effort and enthusiasm so they’ll do more than expected… with excellence. There are four action steps leaders take to achieve bottom-line:
- Facilitate Trust
Leaders that have your back and that are looking out for your best interests will win the trust of their people every time. Employees who trust their leader are more loyal and motivated to achieve. I once had a manager that always looked out for me. She was direct in communicating her expectations and her feedback was pointed. She always treated me with respect and valued my contributions. As a result, not only did she set the tone as to how to treat people, she set my expectations as to the leader I wanted to be. Trust in a work relationship cannot be underestimated. It is a powerful motivational tool and if you are transparent with your employees, you will find surprising results and new opportunities to create sustainable success.
Transparency builds trust; when people understand that you aren’t hiding anything, and that you’ll listen to them, they’re far more likely to respect you as an authority and appreciate you as a leader. It also opens inter-departmental channels, giving employees and supervisors greater clarity and more opportunities to openly communicate across boundaries and borders.
- Let people choose the ways and methods to get the results you’re looking for – as long as the overall goals of the company are being met, give employees room to perform tasks and execute strategies their own way
- Encourage your people to participate and have a say in how things get done and what the outcome should be – trust them and they will trust you
- Speak openly to your employees and they will feel comfortable coming to you with anything that’s on their mind
- Initiate an “open door policy” – people will feel more appreciated, more heard, and more valued… as individuals and as a team
- Be Involved
Be responsive to employees. Show employees that you see them as human beings with a set of personal values and principles that they bring to the job. As a leader, you must hold yourself accountable to building meaningful and purposeful relationships that matter to your employees. This allows you to better understand those you serve. It is critical to every person to feel relevant in today’s rapidly changing business environment – everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their contributions. As such, employees are in search of new ways to learn, improve their skills and invest in themselves. Leaders that participate in this process will help cultivate increased performance levels, loyalty… and motivation.
As a leader, you will sustain high levels of motivation from your employees if you can open doors of opportunity and accelerate their chances for advancement – make it a point to help them get there. Along the same lines, today’s employees are motivated to achieve more than ever simply by the opportunity to create impact. As employees reflect on their lives and careers – they want to contribute in ways that measure their achievements and are valued by the company they serve. As a leader, encourage your employees to be create a sustainable impact from the work they perform. Encourage them to make a mark toward significance. As a leader, be aware of whether your employees are satisfied in their work and that you are deliberate in having these conversations with them. Never assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME.
- Provide ongoing, value-add feedback and coaching – let people know they matter
- Try to see alternative perspectives when speaking with employees on controversial issues
- Understand how to build both depth and breadth of employees skill sets and aptitudes – find ways to elevate your high-potential employees
- Create opportunities for achievements to leave a lasting legacy that rewards the organization and provides a platform for future generations to learn from.
- Involve employees in business decisions early on as a motivation technique that works in any situation. When your people are involved in decisions, they will feel a sense of ownership that is highly valued. As a result, they will do whatever it takes to see a project through to successful completion.
- Provide The Big Picture
Usually employers understand that they need to provide a work environment that creates motivation in people – BUT they fail to understand the significance of motivation in accomplishing their greater goals. Employees are more willing to take responsibility and will make better choices if they understand the larger purpose of their work. Ask yourself these questions:
- How do my employee’s responsibilities figure into the overall mission and vision of the company? Do they know and understand their bigger purpose?
- How can you help people understand their role in the success of the team, unit and organization?
- What important needs are they fulfilling for their customers (internal and external)?
Help each and every person understand how what they do fits into the mission and vision of the organization. Make sure they know they fulfill a meaningful purpose – to you and the company. If you do not, it is likely your workers may not understand the wider implications of their actions, nor be motivated to succeed.
Employees need a clear understanding of the big picture (company, employees, customers, projects, etc.), what’s happening, what the future has in store, how they fit in, how their contributions add value to the process, and changes or adjustments required to be successful. As a great leader, share and explain where the company or project is going – its’ vision, mission, the future (positives and negatives) and changes required to be successful. People need to understand the real big picture, otherwise they tend to fabricate futures… in a not so positive way. Without information, people fear the worse and don’t see any reason to perform at a higher level.
- Ask yourself the tough questions above – answer them
- Share information on the Big Picture to the furthest extent possible
- Help people to fully understand how they fit into that “Big Picture”
- Hold semi-annual all company meetings plus monthly project and department meetings where the big picture is discussed
- Always be open to questions – if you don’t know the answers… find out
- Empower People
You never know where the next great idea is going to come from. We know that the best people — the people you want on your team — thrive when given the opportunity, training and respect to develop their ideas and make some of their own choices.
Make sure employees have the expertise and tools they need to be, and feel, competent to do the job that’s been entrusted to them. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than enforcing rules and following procedures without the ability to make changes or decisions when necessary. If you give employees no flexibility or if you require that you approve every decision, in effect your troops are being trained to depend on you for every little thing.
- Understand and provide the tools for people to do their jobs successfully (equipment, training, information, strategies, etc.).
- Give authority alongside responsibility
- Facilitate transparency of information and regular communication about factors important to your workforce
- Ask for input and get suggestions on how people can improve their performance – most employees have ideas about how they can be more efficient, but they may not share them with you unless you specifically ask them
- Ask for suggestions on organizational improvement – take their advice and implement great ideas
- Give the authority for people to make their own decisions… such as providing service for a client up to a certain point without needing to get prior approval.
- Groom high potential employees to move on to better opportunities – it creates enormous respect and motivation, as well as facilitating your company’s reputation as a great place to work.
Like winning coaches, effective leaders provide ongoing motivation, recognition and praise to people who do the work and achieve the desired results. Weak leaders, who don’t take time to thank people for a job well done, get weak results. Think about great coaches – most are known as great motivators who use different methods depending on the circumstance. Motivation can be provided in different ways – challenges, competitions, listening, training, encouragement, incentives, rewards, recognition, or praise. Motivating your employees requires some strategic effort on your part. However, you and your employees will receive many benefits that make it worth the effort.
At the end of the day, in order to build a successful, sustainable, motivated workforce, you need to create a motivational strategy. People are unique and unpredictable, with individual desires and complicated ideals. No matter how perfectly it all plays out in your head, no single strategy can ever hope to please all your workers all at once. As you work to find the best motivators for your team, remember that you’re going to need to make adjustments and changes as you discover what works and what doesn’t. Perfect your motivation strategy as you get to know the individuals in your company, and they’ll reward you with greater dedication and a confident vision for the future.
What is your Strategy to win the war on all three battlefields?