In the last three decades we’ve seen a dramatic shift in workplace dynamics. In the early 1980s more than 90% of the workforce had a boss. Now that’s dropped over one-third. That’s a lot of people working as freelancers or in contracted positions. And with the change in dynamics, motivation is increasingly more elusive and more important to pin down.*
In BusinessDictionary.com,motivation is defined as “Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role, or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.”
In some circumstances, it’s pretty cut and dry: a NavySEAL team, a baseball team playing for the pennant, an athlete competing in elite sports events.
But with a diverse group of employees with different backgrounds and expectations, how do you pin down motivation?
You cultivate it.
We’ve been sold the idea that some people are motivated and some are complacent. This pretty much throws millions of potentially great workers under the bus. Motivation is a skill that you can teach, and develop, in your organization. Here’s how.
1. Autonomy is key for fostering motivation in any workplace. Human beings are “born to choose.” We have a biological need to control. Good managers let employees “take control” of their work, the decisions they make, and how they will map their way to their goals.
2. Give employees options. This is called oriented planning – focus on the goal, not the road. Sometimes the range of control of an employee is narrow. It’s unrealistic to think that a factory-line worker can make dramatic changes in her position. But as long as an employee is offered choices – whether it be which shift to take, when she wants break time, whether she wants to log overtime or not – there’s an element of control in her hands. A good manager, then, gives options. Options allow employees to assert control.
3. Accountability plays a big part of motivation. Holding employees to a standard and being consistent with your expectations will rub off. Make goals public. Make integrity part of the fabric of your business. This goes for both individual and team goals.
4. Competence is a huge factor in cultivating motivation. A culture of continuous improvement, means training employees and giving them the tools they need to get the job done. How can an employee do the job right without this?
5. Get to know your team. Make things personal and cultivate relationships at the workplace. Have a workplace that values a work-home balance. People motivate people.
6. Mind your “Ps” … purpose, purpose, purpose. We can’t be more emphatic about this. How does each employee contribute to the mission and goal of the organization? And is each employee aware of how critical her piece is to the organization? If that’s not clear, then you have a lot of work to do.
By cultivating motivation, you’re creating the foundation to a powerful work force. Employee engagement isn’t a quick-fix. Getting to the crux of what makes your employees tick, however, is a great place to begin.
*Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better