In my conversations with both executives and business owners we often dialogue about the best way to motivate their employees – to get the best out of them and to sustain their performance.
I am aware of the complexity of the issue as well as the long list of theories and methods that claim to have the found the right key to motivation. An off-the-shelf solutions to this “motivation challenge” is as rare as is a one-size-fits-all pair of jeans.
Research – and common sense – shows that money while important (for survival and the feeling of a fair value exchange) is not the only and neither the major motivating factor.
In any case, when considering motivation it helps to remember that above managers, workers and dare I say consumers, we are all humans – even with our business hats on.
As humans what will motivate us and allows us to sustain performing in the right environment – both tangible and intangible. We need autonomy, acceptance, acknowledgment, belonging, variety, and security as much as suitable space and timing to work at our best. Creating and maintaining an environment that allows for these needs to be met at the workplace makes both human and business sense. This is no big news.
Many companies, including Google, General Mills, Zappos and Disney have gone the extra mile to come up with creative solutions to make coming to work and working fulfilling and fun and thus easier to innovate, more natural to collaborate and more sustainable to perform at a high standard.
Obviously different people put different weight on each of these aspects. So it makes sense to know who is in your company and in your team and what makes them tick.
In my practice apart from profiling what I found useful is to explore these 2 simple questions:
- When, where and with whom do you enjoy working most?
- How do you know you have done a really good job?
You can explore these questions with everyone in your team as well as ask the questions yourself. I found that with a bit of curiosity and respect you can get under the surface of what makes people around you tick and click – what excites and rewards them – in a short time and without a big budget. Then all you need is a little willingness to make (often minor) adjustment in where, when and how we work and interact.
And just one more thing. Motivating conditions are great but inspiring context is magical. Unlike motivation, inspiration comes from inside out and is typically liked with our human need to grow and to contribute to others.
When we create and maintain an environment where people can grow and develop and where they find opportunities to meaningfully contribute to something larger that they care about concerns about motivation will often disappear or become secondary. People will be much more occupied by questions such as “What are we really up for?” and “How can we play our best game?”.