Psychology of Employee Motivation
Employee motivation as a topic has been extensively researched for decades by many leading experts around the globe. It is therefore surprising that only recently have we begun to understand more about the core drivers of an engaged employee and in turn employee performance.
Much traditional thinking places emphasis on rewards and incentives whereas it is now widely accepted these are not key drivers for engagement and performance except in very specific circumstances. The video below, by Dan Pink, explores some of this research and the sometimes surprising results.
Developing An Employee Culture
Here are some basics that most employers aim to achieve:
- Attract Top Talent
- Retain Top Talent
- Motivate Employees
Many leading companies, particularly in areas where talent is in high demand, are seeking new ways to achieve these goals, and one core focus is around developing a strong and inclusive employee culture. If companies can attract the best talent, then many aspects of their business, such as customer satisfaction and productivity will take care of themselves. This is of course not completely accurate as companies still need to actively encourage and nurture a motivated workforce. Without motivation, employees will not be sufficiently engaged, performance will drop and employees will not stay.
Key Drivers for Motivation
Old school “command and control” leadership methods do not tend to drive motivation. Typically employees need to be valued by their employer, to clearly understand their role in the big picture, to feel empowered to act, and to achieve recognition and positive feedback on these actions. We can distill this into cultural leadership and management guides:
Clarify Company Values
Clear expression of company values means employees understand the culture and can be aligned. Emotional alignment with company culture can lead to a sense of belonging and stronger drive to contribute to the overall success.
Value Human Capital
Putting people first has powerful paybacks. Employees who feel genuinely valued are far more likely to push harder, be more persistent, aim higher and show passion for their work. When employees are genuinely passionate about their work they can be an unstoppable force for success.
Remove Barriers to Performance
Find out from employees what they want and need to be more effective. Company ineffectiveness, poor structure and processes, lack of resources and ineffectual communication strategies are readily identifiable by the employees who are directly affected by these issues.
Offer Flexible Rewards
Asking employees how they want to be rewarded for success ensures your reward system is properly aligned to employee expectations. Simply framing the questions with some sense of type, scale or scope of reward ensures realistic suggestions that can be easily implemented.
Sharing success and celebrating within the company reinforces sense of achievement, sense of belonging and feelings of contribution.
Clearly we are not talking about seeking to replicate failure, but ensuring the focus on failure is learning and not blame. Each failure is simply discovering a new way that is sub-optimal and hence can be ruled out. Therefore every failure is another step forward.
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