To paraphrase H.W. Beecher, “God made people go by motives, and they will not go without them any more than a boat without steam or a balloon without gas. Find out what motivates individuals, and we can touch the button and turn the key that makes them achieve.”
As leaders, we are constantly looking for ways to make the whole organization equal to more than the sum of its parts. In today’s business environment, we must 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, much time is spent on creating processes and conditions that drive and motivate our employees.
Let’s start with a few questions. What is, or should be, the objective of employee motivation? It’s to create enhanced productivity. And how would you define “people productivity gain?” The obvious and most natural response is “to get more out of existing personnel.” On the surface, this is simple, but as you dig deeper, productivity gain requires a lot more thought, as it is much more than one individual performing more of something in the same prescribed time. It is an organizational culture that stimulates an environment that inspires an individual and groups of individuals to strive for excellence in everything done to realize the company vision. It is about every individual satisfying their needs in such a way that it inspires a sense of belonging, involvement, satisfaction, success, respect, mastery, recognition, accomplishment, creativity, growth, maturity, and independence.
Over the years, I have noticed leaders trying various ways to motivate their people to higher levels of performance. Even the best leaders have experienced the frustration of leading someone who seemed to refuse to live up to expectations. The fact is, the leader did not recognize that motivation develops internally from a personal desire to achieve goals that are important both to the individual and the organization. Motivation is the force that prompts you to take action.
Does Money Motivate for the Long Haul?
Much research has been conducted to identify the factors that have the most dramatic impact on productivity. Think it’s money? Think again. While pay, fringe benefits, and working conditions are important, research has shown that, while the absence of these factors produces a lack of motivation, their presence has no long-range motivational effects. The motivational factors that do have long-range effects on productivity include recognition of a job well done, a sense of achievement, growth, participation, challenge, and identification with the company’s goals and vision.
Despite these facts, leaders and managers spend much time trying to motivate employees through fear and “incentives.” 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 production. Fear can be highly motivating, but not in conjunction with positive results for any length of time.
On the other hand, an incentive is a positive motivator that is a reward exchange for specific behavior. But this also has diminishing returns as employees expect fair compensation based on their long-term contributions. Many times, there is a disconnect between what the employee usually desires and what the employer is willing to pay
Ultimately, employees start gravitating toward desiring more intangible rewards such as respect, growth, knowledge, prestige, and recognition (to name a few) that eventually govern their internal motivation. The challenge for you as a leader is to recognize each individual’s unique desires.
Motivating to Achieve Productivity Gains
In our many years of working with exceptional companies, we have found several ways to motivate employees to achieve productivity gains. Here are just a few of these ways that have worked very well. Start today and apply them in your business as well!
-Provide strategic praise to each of your direct reports on at least a weekly basis. If you cannot do this, then you may need to look in the mirror, as you might be causing negative performance.
-Make employee development and retention a primary objective of each manager and leader and reward results accordingly.
-Involve everyone at all levels in the goal-setting and planning processes, particularly if they are responsible for the results.
-Establish robust performance management systems that involve a continuous, timely, and constructive basis and a fair and equitable compensation program.
-Let people know what is expected of them and do everything you can to make them successful.
-Develop a “servant leader” attitude. Be there for your people rather than having them there for you.
-Make sure that everyone knows how they contribute to the overall vision.
-Treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Apply these methods consistently in your business, and you will begin to reap the benefits of positive motivation.
Think you might need more extensive help in increasing your productivity, especially during the pandemic? Contact us and accept our offer of a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of Activate Group’s expert coaches. Absolutely no strings attached. We simply want to help you during the COVID crisis.
(Reference and excerpts are taken with permission from Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation, Mohnton, PA.)