In today’s business environment, it is essential that we find ways to make our organizational resources more productive. In many organizations, the most prominent and expensive resource we have is our people. As a result, a lot of time is spent on creating processes and conditions that drive and motivate employees.
Over the years, I have observed leaders trying many ways to motivate their people to higher levels of performance. Even the best leaders have experienced the frustration of trying to lead someone who seemed to refuse to live up to expectations. Ironically, their people were probably feeling the same way. The reason: Motivation develops internally from a personal desire to achieve goals that are important both to the individual and to the organization. Motivation is the force that prompts you to take action. If you are having trouble getting someone to achieve your goals, you are probably failing to understand what theirs are.
A lot of research has been conducted over the years to identify the factors that have the most dramatic impact on productivity. While pay, fringe benefits, and working conditions are important, research has shown that absence of these factors produces a lack of motivation, but their presence has no long-range motivational effects. Long-range motivational factors are recognition of a job well done, sense of achievement, growth, participation, challenge, and identification with the company’s goals and vision.
In spite of these facts, leaders and managers spend a lot of time trying to find ways to motivate employees through fear and incentive. The very essence of fear is negative, and over time has diminishing effects as employees develop attitudes that lead to a decrease in quality, commitment, and productivity. Fear can be highly motivating, but does not produce positive results for any length of time.
On the other hand, incentive is a positive motivator. An incentive is a reward in exchange for a specific behavior. This also has diminishing returns as employees expect fair compensation based on their contributions, and many times, there is a disconnect between what the employee desires and what the employer is willing to pay. Over time, employees start gravitating toward desiring more of the intangible rewards such as respect, growth, knowledge, prestige, and recognition (to name a few) that ultimately govern their internal motivation. The challenge lies in recognizing each individual’s unique desires.
Here are 15 ideas proven to provide for long-term employee motivation:
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Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation, Mohnton, PA