The Fundamentals of Motivation
Have you ever wondered why the people in your team don’t seem as motivated as you do? Or why some people do their jobs with enthusiasm and vigor, and others barely get through the day without taking the frown off their faces?
You are not alone. The topic of human motivation has been studied for hundreds of years. So it’s a topic we know a lot about. Unfortunately it’s not often taught to managers as part of their training.
There are things you can do to influence how much energy people are willing to put into their jobs. Below are 5 critical things to know about motivation.
1. We can’t motivate other people
Motivation is not something we ‘do’ to others. It has to come from within. All we can do is create an environment which encourages motivation. So to some extent we are let off the hook. Our responsibility as managers only goes so far –after that, it’s up to the individual to get on board.
2. Some people just won’t ever be motivated
I think we all know the truth of this. Some people are just in the wrong space, and have no interest in being part of a team, or working any harder than they absolutely have to. It can be very difficult to manage the performance of these individuals, particularly if they are doing just enough to get by. Usually the solution is to include behaviors and attitudes as part of required performance. Then their attitude becomes a tangible performance issue which can be coached and managed through the performance review system.
3. One size definitely does not fit all
The fun thing about motivation is that we are all different, so you need to employ multiple strategies and approaches. Different generations, different stages of life, different needs from a career – these are all things that will influence what people desire as a motivator during their lives. The best way to find out what will motivate people is to simply ask them. Most people will happily tell you. And if you’re looking for some ideas – here are 8 to get you started:
1. Flexible working hours
2. Training opportunities
3. A work-related challenge
4. Public or private recognition
5. Opportunity to work from home
6. Updated technology
7. Vouchers for movies/dinner
8. An opportunity to be rewarded for exceptional performance
4. Management style makes the difference
People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. If individuals in a team seem to be lacking in motivation, the style of the manager is one of the first places to look. People don’t respond to being told what to do (well, not for very long), so authoritarian, controlling, elitist and dictatorial styles will lead to unmotivated and despondent employees. Developing a collaborative style is crucial to creating an environment that encourages people to be motivated and engaged. Most manager’s are completely unaware of the impact they have on others, and usually overestimate their skills. So get your manager’s some training and support them as they learn the skills and mondsets they need to have a positive impact rather than a negative one.
5. Boring jobs make people switch off
Some jobs by their nature are pretty repetitive and boring. Do what you can to bring interest and variety to different roles. Cross training, job rotation, multi-skilling and project work are all ways that keep people’s minds active. If there is no opportunity to spice up the work itself, then you need to provide non-work related opportunities for interest. A fun and relaxed environment will go a long way towards mediating the effects of repetitive work.
There are plenty more things that affect people’s levels or motivation. For example, if you pay peanuts, don’t expect people to be jumping with joy every time they come to work. If you can make come to grips with these 5 principles, then you’ll be making a good start to creating the environmental factors that contribute to a highly motivated workforce.