- Steve Squier
“There is no such thing as lazy employees; only unmotivated ones.”
Whether or not you agree with that statement, the fact remains that people must be motivated by something that matters to them enough to compel them to act. Most companies measure how well an employee’s motivation aligns with a company’s goals by the term ‘engagement’. Simply put…Engaged employees feel connected to their work and team and are motivated to participate. Unengaged employees do not.
What are some of the most common motivations for work?
- Ascension. People want to feel forward progression in their role and income over time.
- Belonging. People need the identity they gain from work to help them cultivate a sense of belonging within their company/culture/networks.
- Impact. People want to know that what they do matters and makes an impact on the business.
- Challenge. People need a certain level of risk and tension in their role to keep them interested.
These are a few of the basic motivations. Most engaged people find that their work aligns with their personal continuum along these four factors. Some of these, such as ‘ascension’ of role/income, may happen only situationally, while others, such as ‘belonging’, ‘impact’, and ‘challenge’, are ongoing.
You need to continually monitor how well your team members feel aligned with these core motivators and help with that alignment.
Here are four ways to do that:
- Map their strengths. This ensures skills development, which will over time lead to promotions and more money. Help your team members set quarterly and annual career goals and celebrate their success. Give them opportunities to step up and drive towards goals via smart delegation. Also, make sure the individual’s career goals are custom and personal to them and not just the company’s steps and vision of what that person can become.
- Share the big picture. This ensures a sense of belonging. Be inclusive, transparent, and always communicate openly. Don’t just share the ‘what and how’ of their role, but discuss the ‘why’ too. By explaining the ‘why’, you’ll help give tasks and functions a context and meaning. This meets people’s need to understand the motives and bigger picture behind their job.
- Recognise their work. This ensures a feeling of impact. You can be sure your employees are tallying up the amount of effort they contribute to the team and may be periodically asking themselves if it is worth it. Consistently recognise contributions one-on-one, within the team, and across the company. You can also incentivise and gamify contribution with contests to keep things fun and competitive. Not every employee is going to feel motivated by the same thing and always use a range of recognition techniques. Keep in mind that written or verbal public acknowledgment of one’s work can and is often more meaningful than tangible recognition via gifts, prizes, or other physical rewards.
- Keep them on an edge. This ensures challenge-seeking behaviour. Don’t be overly protective of your staff when it comes to adversity. The difficulties associated with a job are the very experiences that will build someone’s career. Speak about challenges as something to embrace, not avoid. And always comment on the attempt as much as the outcome. For example, sometimes we take chances or try something new that doesn’t work out. Instead of lamenting the negative outcome, celebrate the attempt of trying something difficult and taking that risk.
By consciously engaging your staff with the goal of creating these feelings of ascension, impact, belonging, and challenge, you will be grooming higher motivation levels. An engaged team is a powerfully motivated team. So, it’s well worth your time to look for ways to help them achieve their very best.
Steve Squier is Executive Director, Client Services, Seven Step RPO