It’s not uncommon to hear versions of this inspirational employee call-to-action. So how do you get your employees to:
· pursue their targets with fire in their bellies
· take ownership of their performance
· do what you ask them to do, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them
· engage in purposeful relationship-building
· iron out the peaks and troughs that lead to good days and bad days
· make sound commercial decisions without constantly referring upwards
· develop themselves to take on broader responsibility
Many benefits are being introduced across my client base.
These include company health care, performance bonuses, pizzas in the office, flexible working, and even ‘bring your dog to work’ days. All laudable ideas, but they’re unlikely to improve motivation.
In the late ’50s, Frederick Herzberg, a behavioural scientist, referred to these as “hygiene factors”. These ‘trinkets’ (my word, not Frederick’s) deal with sources of dissatisfaction in the workplace, but that doesn’t raise performance.
Herzberg’s ‘Motivational Factors’.
Herzberg suggested that motivational factors could be designed into roles to drive higher motivation and performance instead. These include the scope for personal growth, personal responsibility, and recognition.
The problem is that these ideas don’t always survive contact with reality either. You’ve all got examples of where you have given people the opportunity to step up, take responsibility and challenge their comfort zones, often with disappointing results.
This is rarely just the fault of the employee. Inconsistent messaging when delegating plays just as big a part in failure as the employee’s performance.
When it comes to motivating people, reality becomes problematic.
The challenge is that the sources of motivation and dissatisfaction are uniquely coded in each individual. It works like this: In any given situation, motivation levels are mediated by attitude, which is shaped by your perspective at that moment. And your perspective comes from your deeply held individual internal narrative.
If motivational factors are highly personal, how do you motivate each individual?
Well, you don’t.
It isn’t your job to motivate people. Your role is to create the best environment you can (given the economic model of the company and the demands of the customer base you serve), within which your team should motivate themselves.
It is the individual’s role to find the level of motivation required to perform their role to the company’s standard and figure out what gets in the way. With the right level of awareness, most people can effortlessly inspire and motivate themselves.
The good news is that our internal narrative (and by association our state of mind) is malleable. With skilled intervention and persistence, new perspectives can become available to employees to access new motivation and performance levels. It requires shifts in the employees’ perspective and how you, as a Business Leader, engage with them.