My blogs often focus on people and teams and how they tick, but to get the most out of our people, we need to look at what creates a productive and effective workforce and how to develop a culture of performance through dialogue.
However, I’ve not yet addressed one essential driver of performance. Something that can be difficult to define, may have a very different meaning for each of us, but if missing, can impact individual and team effectiveness hugely.
I’m referring, of course, to motivation. It’s something that’s been front of mind for me recently as I’ve drafted CPD e-learning modules on the topic and because of observations I’ve made in the course of working with teams. It’s also a subject that’s cropped up in a personal context: in conversations I’ve been having with a friend who’s feeling particularly unmotivated in their job.
As employers and employees, we must try to be aware of what motivates and de-motivates ourselves and those around us. In the workplace, many of us will share some common motivational drivers – most obviously around the rewards we receive for our labour in the form of salary and benefits.
But motivation goes much deeper than this and is far more subtle. Much of it happens on a subconscious level. You know when you’re feeling especially fired up or particularly sapped of enthusiasm, but how often do you take time to analyse the cause, so you can either replicate or avoid the feeling in future? Probably not as often as you should, and the same is likely to be true when it comes to managing a team or working with colleagues. But understanding what makes yourself and others tick can be vital when it comes to getting to the root of why something isn’t working as it should or re-igniting passion where it may have dropped.
When you discuss performance with an employee, your focus will be on communicating what you want them to achieve or do differently and ensuring you get the dialogue right. For a conversation to be truly effective though, it must do more than just make your expectations clear; it needs to leave the other party feeling motivated and enthused about what you want them to do.
Here are 6 things you can do to unlock the power of motivation and help inspire individuals and teams in your organisation to deliver their best:
1. Learn what motivates your people
As the motivator, you can only light the fuse – the response must come from within the person you want to motivate, and this means making an effort to find out what motivates the individuals in your team.
Each of us is motivated by a unique and complex interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Learning what these are for each of your people will be key to creating an environment that encourages everyone to deliver their best.
Identifying what these drivers are is something that both parties need to work on in the conversations they have with each other. It’s a delicate balance – while showing little interest certainly won’t help motivation levels, too much enquiry might be seen as intrusive. Only by identifying and acknowledging what these drivers are will it be possible to recognise if something is missing and, if it is, take action to rectify it.
2. Think about the makeup of your team & give recognition where it’s due
To ensure employees feel motivated, you need to help them understand exactly where they fit into the team and what you expect their contribution to be – so they can deliver their best, and you can recognise their efforts appropriately.
For example, the input of an employee in an administrative role will be very different to that of a colleague in, say, a fee-earning sales position, but their contributions will be equally critical to the team’s overall performance and must be recognised as such. It might be easy to overlook the efforts of the employee in the admin role, but if their specialist skills are not given appropriate recognition, they’re likely to feel disconnected.
3. Check perception matches intention
When you want to highlight an issue and bring about change, it’s essential to make sure any conversations you have delineate between the task being discussed and the individual. If communication is anything less than crystal clear, an individual may take constructive criticism personally – rather than understanding they’re simply being asked to improve an aspect of their work.
Similarly, perception can be blurred, and your intention may be lost if you are too general about performance. For example, saying someone is good or bad at their role is not particularly useful. Instead, conversations need to specifically communicate where performance is good and where there is room for improvement, so the employee is motivated to do more of what they’re good at and get better in the other areas.
4. Be clear about your expectations
If a performance conversation is going to motivate, you need to have clarity about the expectations you have, expressing them clearly and being sure to frame them positively.
Rather than focusing exclusively on areas where improvement is required, you should make sure dialogue also acknowledges and recognises those areas where an individual is performing well in their role. Reassuring someone that you’re generally pleased with their performance will help make them more receptive to discussing areas where you want to see improvement – or identifying issues that might be holding them back.
5. Check emotional balance is in credit
If motivation levels have been allowed to drop below a certain level for a long time, bringing them back up again might present a real challenge. A prolonged period of poor leadership might have got a team to this point, but it may take more than simply introducing good leadership to correct things if the emotional balance of some team members is very low.
We need to recognise when people have run out of motivation. It may be a matter of addressing a core issue that’s impacting motivation and helping someone to reconnect, or it might require an open and honest conversation to uncover what’s missing and take corrective action.
6. Make motivation a partnership
Motivation in the workplace should be a shared responsibility. Everyone needs to make sure that everyone else is happy and motivated and flag up when this is not the case.
Employees need to let their managers know how they prefer to work and what they need to enable them to work better. And managers need to ensure dialogue is open enough that they can pick up on relevant information – and respond accordingly.
Let Us Help You Get the Best Out of Your People!
Motivation can make the difference between a mediocre effort and an excellent performance – and it’s an easy win that should run through all aspects of your HR cycle.
If you need advice and support creating a motivational culture that helps you get the most out of your people: one that promotes the right kind of dialogue and encourages people to bring their very best self to work, Organic P&O Solutions can help. Contact us today for an initial discussion!