Massive motivation in the modern workplace

any businesses are still stuck in the past believing that employee motivation is a complicated challenge to get right and working on the basis that targets alone are the best way to increase productivity and encourage their people to perform at their best.

However, it’s actually much simpler than you think. The first step is to acknowledge that employee motivation is critical to delivering the best results for your business. The second step is to reconsider everything you thought you knew about what motivates people.

Dan Pink’s inspiring RSA Animate video on what moves people to perform challenges the wisdom of more conventional motivational practices and with nearly 15 million views to date, it’s fair to say he probably has a point (or three).

Motivation doesn’t have to cost you

“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table: pay people enough to that they’re not thinking about money and they’re thinking about the work. Once you do that, it turns out there are three factors that the science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery and purpose.”

While incentives and financial reward may be effective in certain situations, they can also serve to block thinking and dull creativity, says Pink. These types of reward are fine when the rules are simple and the objective of the task is clear – but by their very nature, they narrow our focus and concentrate the mind on a singular destination in sight.

A sense of achievement is the ultimate motivator

The traditional carrot and stick method of extrinsic reward and punishment is entirely at odds with the kind of culture progressive businesses should be working to achieve in the workplace. In fact, it often does more harm than good.

By contrast, establishing ways to intrinsically motivate your people by letting them achieve a sense of pride and satisfaction from their work is likely to produce much better results.

The key is to motivate people to do things not for incentive but because they matter or because they like doing them, or because they’re part of something important or interesting.

Three key intrinsic motivators

If you want to inspire conceptual and creative thinking among your people, there are three crucial elements of intrinsic motivation that you need to observe: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

  • Autonomy is in essence the “desire to direct our own lives”. Give your employees the freedom they deserve to do their jobs and watch productivity and innovation flourish. Don’t micromanage their every move. Let them work on projects that interest them so that their sense of pride in a job well done is natural rather than contrived.
  • Humans are inherently equipped with an urge to improve and become better at something – take advantage of that desire by encouraging mastery in your workforce and enabling your employees to experiment without the restrictions of a job remit. The satisfaction this gives them will be inspiring in itself, which creates a perfectly virtuous circle of motivation, productivity and success.
  • Finally, tap into people’s need to be part of a bigger, transcendent purpose. It might sound lofty, but the principle is sound: when the profit motive gets unmoored from the purpose motive, progress stalls. Remind your people of the company’s common purpose, make them feel part of the strategic remit and how much they are valued. The simplest of gestures, such as a sincere “thank you, I appreciate it”, can have the biggest impact.

This is personal

Most importantly, make it personal. There is no “one size fits all” solution to employee motivation. In an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce with different attitudes and career expectations, take the time to relate to your people as individuals. That way you can be sure that massive motivation creates a momentum for success that everyone in your business, not just a select few, can aspire to and benefit from.


Author: Andy Philpott | Category: Blog | 20/04/2017 | 0

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