As a leader you must contend with the fact that many of the employees you lead will not be as self motivated as you are. They will benefit from a little extra motivation. Understanding motivation begins with knowing the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within a person. An employee might have an internal feeling of motivation driven by, personality, or explained by a quality fit with the work. Meaning they actually like what they do. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation resulting from any number of external things we might do in an attempt to stimulate new motivation in others. The vast majority of writing, and thinking, and tools in the area of employee motivation focus on forms of extrinsic motivation. New ways to entice people to do more and better work. This isn't bad in and of itself, but it is not the most productive view of motivation.
The most effective way to think about motivation is in a balanced manner that incorporates both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. With a clear emphasis on supporting intrinsic motivation. Think of it this way, sometimes we become so focused on using things such as money and other types of rewards. That the rewards can become a much bigger focus than the work itself. That is an outcome you wish to avoid from the intrinsic/extrinsic perspective there are three major approaches to employee motivation.
The first two are the most popular, and they're extrinsic in nature. I'm referring to goal setting and the use of rewards and recognition. These are popular because they're the easiest to understand and implement. The third approach is somewhat less popular, but actually far more important. This one deals with relationships and the work environment and how they can often bolster and support intrinsic motivation. Nothing motivates a person more than high quality relationships in a positive work environment. So, let's address four key aspects of the work environment and relationships at work that have been proven, many times, to be great explanations for employee motivation.
Research on motivation is very clear. The quality of relationships at work matters. And none matters more than the relationship an employee has with his or her direct supervisor. In fact, the number one reason that professionals voluntarily leave jobs, is bad boss relationships. As a leader, realize that while you're not trying to become best friends with the members of your team. You are trying to develop positive, helpful, and supportive relationships. Remember, for every employee their view of the quality of their relationship with you, is the lens through which everything else at work is seen. The next motivating aspect, is a feeling of inclusion, you build a sense of inclusion by genuinely seeking employee input on important matters. Make them feel like you're partners, not mere employees. Third is a sense of opportunity.
You create real belief in opportunity when others see that great performance is justly rewarded. This helps the team see the workplace as a fair place. Last but not least, you want to build a sense of purpose. You accomplish this by sharing comments about why the work matters and how the team's work actually helps others. Use your comments, notes, or comments from others in the organization supported by your team, or from customers or clients you ultimately support. When you build positive relationships with your employees, and build a sense of inclusion, opportunity, and purpose. You will have done a great deal to support intrinsic motivation. Here is one additional quick but very important piece of advice. Never rely on fear as a motivator.
It is important to understand that while fear is effective in obtaining short term compliance from your employees, there are two huge problems. First, using these tactics causes resentment, which can simmer, for a long time. Second, use of fear stops you from achieving the one thing that is much better than short term compliance which is long-term behavioral commitment. Fear and negativity, should be very rare in a productive workplace.
Motivating others is not mysterious. You'll need tactics that support both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Both are important, but always remember nothing is more motivational than being a part of positive and supportive relationships at work.
- Building initial rapport
- Signaling fairness and integrity
- Communicating proactively
- Facilitating efficient meetings
- Using your authority effectively