Employee Motivation

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Employee MotivationWhat motivates you at work? Money? Doing a job well? Recognition? Winning? Advancement? Acceptance? Or would you be happy if only you could work in a nicer environment? 

If "they" fixed the things that bug you, would you work harder? No. You will work harder ONLY if THAT gets you whatever it is you want. 

The point is that just providing popular motivators may reduce dissatisfaction but it won't lead to better performance unless there is a direct connection between employee effort and motivational outcome or reward.

Theories and Techniques for Motivating Employees

  • Herzberg's theory of motivation still applies: people complain about poor 'hygiene' factors - working conditions, benefits, even salary, because of a lack of 'motivational' factors - in short: they're bored!
  • A 'hygiene' factor is a constant, independent of performance.
  • A 'motivational' factor is what you get only through your own effort.
  • Is there a close relationship between what you want others to do and some reward?
  • If rewards are not tied to performance, you won't motivate anyone.
  • We want to feel important, to be needed, to achieve something meaningful, to stand out.
  • Motivation stems from satisfaction in doing a good job or from recognition by others for our efforts.
  • Money can be a motivator, but only if you value more money and perceive a strong relationship between your effort and reward
  • The strongest employee motivators are: achieving results, being valued, made to feel important, being included and accepted by an admired group, competing - getting ahead of others, gaining influence and status, earning more money, opportunities to do things you enjoy.
  • Something can motivate behaviour only if that behaviour leads to it.
  • The key is to find out what motivates the people you want to motivate.
  • Avoid assuming they want what you want.
  • Your power to motivate will depend, in part, on how much others value recognition from you or inclusion by you.
  • Find out what characteristics your subordinates admire in their corporate heroes and try to develop those traits in yourself.
  • You won't motivate technical wizards by being a socialite, for example.
  • You can try appealing to a grand vision, but you need to show people what's in it for them.

Motivation and Employee Engagement

Much of what we call employee engagement is really just a re-packaging of age-old ideas about employee motivation. One way of differentiating between the two is to say that enagement has more to do with involvement, something that can only be achieved by managers asking employees "What do you think?" more often. As it is, managers tend to like to do their own thinking and develop their own solutions, so much so that they welcome questions from employees so they can solve the employee's problems as well. This is fun, like scoring goals but it is poor management because it does not engage employees or develop them.