After watching a video on motivation shared by Harvard Business Review, there were some points I wanted to share.
Firstly, The Explainer: One more time, how do you motivate employees? says that force is the first thing not to use if you want to motivate employees. It seems widely accepted today that ordering people to do something is not the way to inspire people and get them on board.
One of my early blogs focused on Daniel Pink’s thoughts on motivation, set out in his book Drive. He says that the basic need is salary so employers should ‘pay enough to take money off the table’. This video says something similar, setting out Hertzberg’s ‘hygiene factors’ of salary, working conditions and job security. These factors echo Maslow’s theory of motivation which suggests that motivation requires people’s basic needs to be met as a starting point. I’ve worked in organisations where the belief seemed to be that paying a decent salary and good pension is enough to motivate people. Instead, I would suggest that these basic factors encourage people to stay with your organisation and so come to work every day but they are not enough to make people perform.
What we need to be thinking about as leaders is how to get people to take responsibility and move forward on their own. This next layer includes factors such as challenging work, autonomy, recognition and advancement. These things get people interested and fired up to push things forward so that they achieve high performance.
As a manager, I believe that achieving this is about taking a more hands-off approach and giving individuals space to try things and learn from them. To avoid things taking a long time or moving in the wrong direction, I provide clarity around the overall aims and objectives, advice and guidance on how to complete the task and parameters for the work. This includes my thoughts on the best way to go about things, how I envisage it will look or feel and time allowed for the task.
For me, this all takes the form of a discussion where individuals can challenge my views and share their own ideas. Once we have agreed the requirements of the work, I leave them to carry on with it, checking progress on a regular basis and offering support so they know where I am if they have questions or need advice.
This approach requires trust and humility; it requires me to let them be expert in what they do and accept that they might know more or have better ideas. The more I can let them act on their own beliefs and draw on their expertise, the more happy, satisfied and motivated they feel in their work. It has always seemed to me that it increases loyalty, respect and commitment as well.
Furthermore, I would suggest that motivating people requires an appreciation of the individual and respect for a diversity of views and opinions, spending time as a team and allowing space for relationships to develop, celebrating success, encouraging them to push forward and supporting them to achieve their personal goals.
Do you use any of the techniques above? How do you achieve motivation and performance within your team? Share your thoughts below.