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What will really motivate your people?

Published on Tuesday, 23rd February 2016, contributed by en:Rich HR

Did you know that 25th of February is Employee Motivation Day? It’s the day for employers to make a special effort to motivate and engage their employees. I am very pleased to support such an initiative to build awareness but for me, one day doesn’t go far enough. Employers should be motivating their teams every day.

Being motivated of course lies at the heart of being engaged. I believe that people come to work to do a good job and be engaged - but it’s often what they experience whilst at work that actually demotivates them and makes them disengaged. From my experience this could quite simply be the bureaucracy they have to wade through to get the job done - or it might be the nature of the work they do, perhaps the way they are treated or managed.

For a tip on how to create such an engaging experience, Sir Richard Branson has a simple approach…

“There is no magic formula for great company culture. The key is to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”

So what motivates us?

Here’s a very brief tour through motivational theory…

Back in the 1950’s Abraham Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He believed that people possess a set of motivation systems unrelated to rewards and stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfil the next one, and so on.  In the 1960’s psychologist Frederick Herzberg stated that there are certain factors in the workplace that motivate while a separate set of factors that demotivate.

Dale Carnegie recently published some research that identified seven key drivers:

•           Achievement

•           Influencing others

•           Camaraderie

•           Independence

•           Esteem (Recognition and praise)

•           Security

•           Fairness

Motivational theory has been brought right up to date by Dan Pink in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’. He argues motivation is largely intrinsic and that what really motivates us is (a) having autonomy over what we do, (b) mastery (being an expert in what we do) and (c) having a purpose to why we work.  He also argues that motivation is not driven by rewards (money and bonuses).

The differences in people and their motivational needs is clearly demonstrated when you start looking at what motivates Generation X and Y. These two generational groups have very different characteristics and respond to different motivations accordingly - as this article from Entrepreneur explains.

So how do you motivate your teams?

Rather than asking or forcing individuals to step into line with the organisation’s needs, today’s businesses must adapt and transform themselves to think about what individuals and teams want, what will keep them and inspire them to do their best work.

Based on their extensive research, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones in their new book “Why Should Anyone Work Here?, identified six ‘ideal’ workplace characteristics that, if practiced, will allow individuals to feel motivated and engaged with their organisation and able to reach their full potential, in turn driving sustained higher performance throughout the organisation.  Their DREAM model identifies them as:

D - Difference: “I can be myself at work”.  An organisation which allows individuals to express the ways in which they are different and how they see things differently

R - Radical honesty: “I want to know what’s really going on.” Letting employees know what is really going on

E - Extra value: “add value to me, don’t exploit me.” An organisation which develops and adds values to employees
A - Authenticity: “mean what you say and say what you mean – I want to know what my organisation really stands for.”  An organisation which stands for something that employees can be proud of.

M - Meaning: “I want a meaningful job in an organisation which itself has meaning.” Where day-to-day work has real significance.

S - Simple rules: “I want simple agreed rules, not a fog of bureaucracy.” Where the same sensible rules apply to all.

How employee engagement supports motivation

For me it’s about developing a holistic approach and treating people as individuals and as people who have different needs and motivations. It’s also about managers tailoring their approaches to reflect this.

I believe there are 10 characteristics that should exist within an engaged and motivated workplace. From the authenticity of your employer brand to the buy-in of your leaders, you can discover what you should be aiming to have in place in a longer version of this article on the en:Rich blog.

You can read it in full here.

If youd like to explore employee engagement options for your organisation please feel free to contact me for a chat.