motivation2-300x198People are motivated to work for a variety of reasons – most of them have nothing to do with money despite what you might think or even what they might tell you. As a matter of fact, in a recent poll conducted by the Gallup group, not one of the 12 Core Elements of Employee Satisfaction mentioned money.  Fifty percent of those same core elements are related to topics that are the basis for motivating others to do their best work – encouragement, caring, feelings of importance, empowerment, opportunity, recognition.  Another twenty percent comes from the knowledge that what you do matters – my opinion counts, discussions with my manager, knowing what is expected.  In order for any employee to be motivated they must perceive value. That value is tied to having their needs met and a sense of satisfaction.

Researchers and educators have differing opinions on the origins or employee motivation.  Some say it comes from a persons spirit or desire and that it is a natural trait, others say it is organizational practices or manager style and technique.  The truth is somewhere in-between.   Without personal desire, a spark of motivation can be lit but, it will not last if it is not “guided” by clear expectations and “tended” by management and organizational actions.

As leaders, owners and managers, one of your most challenging and rewarding responsibilities is motivating others to work at or beyond their capacity.  While you may think you need only motivate those in certain roles or with certain responsibilities such as customer service representatives or salespersons, all people who work no matter what their level or role, seek motivation to perform at their full potential. Only you can give them the feedback that they seek.  Only you can empower them to work independently. Only you can reinforce those actions and activities with recognition.

What might help is a bit more education on who needs to be motivated, when to motivate and how. Let me share a few a few truths about motivating people.

Truth #1: Some people have more desire to succeed and sense of purpose. In some it is just inherent. It is easier to hire it than it is to create it. Look for these traits when you recruit.

Truth #2:  When clear expectations are in place a greater sense of responsibility exists. People who have a sense of responsibility have less need to be motivated.

Truth #3:  Motivation is fueled by encouragement. People need to know that you believe in and are pleased with them. They want to know that long before a job is done.  In fact, the chances of them doing well are significantly greater if you confirm your confidence in them from the very start.  This takes on the significance of a promise and promises are powerful motivators.

Truth #4:  There is a direct correlation between rewards and motivation. AND you get what you reward. It is a fact that managers routinely reward employee behaviors they are trying to discourage and fail to reward the behaviors they actually want.  One example of this might be that a manager who wants to build teamwork actually rewards only individual accomplishments.  Another is ignoring sloppy work if you talk about the importance of quality.  The bottom line, you get what you recognize and reward.

Truth #5:  Team spirit and loyalty are strong motivators. People who work together often build bonds as strong as or stronger than those they have with family.  In fact, most work teams spend more time together than they do with their family members. With that much invested, it only makes sense that loyalty to the group will develop.  As manager, owner or leader, you are the “head” of this work family.  You have to be respected, looked up to, trusted, and respected before you can guide the team.

Truth #6:  Caution: Motivation can be dastardly. On some rare occasions, employees are motivated by dastardly purposes such as anger, revenge or cruelty.  As a manager it is your responsibility to not only recognize but to manage this situation immediately. These personalities and their behaviors are toxic to any team or organization.  If allowed, they will poison your good work and workers.

Truth #7: You can motivate without money. Often management believes that the only way to reward is through a raise, dollar incentive or bonus.  This misconception is contrary to the feedback researchers have gotten from employee polls.  Most employees rate a recognition and personal attention higher than monetary reward.  Below are 10 ways to motivate your employees without money.

  1. Recognition – formal or informal – in front of others.
  2. One-on-One Coachingcoaching is employee development. ROI pays for the program.
  3. Training – training is a great way to motivate and develop at the same time.
  4. Career Mapping – chart a course to let your employees know what is potentially ahead for them.
  5. Job Title – be creative. Match the title to the reward and work.
  6. Improve Work Environment – give them a better place to work.
  7. Leadership Roles – give them a role that recognizes their ability even if temporary.
  8. Time Off – often time is preferred to more money.
  9. Contests – develop contests that will allow you to recognize and reward.
  10. Recognition from Higher Level – ask your manager or a company executive to recognize the employee.

Coach’s Challenge:  Rate your employee motivation and satisfaction. Let them know you will be doing this regularly. [This can be done in an anonymous survey.  If you are a small business there are plenty of free online sources.]Then take a look at how you have been motivating them. If they are completely satisfied your plan is working. If they are not, or even just to show them their satisfaction is important, try something new.

If you are not sure how to motivate your team or concerned about morale contact your business coach for some new ideas.

~Sherry B. Jordan