You don’t motivate employees – employees have their own motivations.
Your employees’ motivations may be visible or invisible. They may not even be conscious of their own motivations. But, every employee has motivations, and they stem from looking out for him or herself. The critical question is whether your employees’ motivations are in your best interest.
Let’s Go Back To Basics with Motivation
What is the definition of motivation? Here is how the Oxford dictionary defines it:
- A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.
- Desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm.
Employees with a strong motivation to do great work will help drive business success. I see three foundational building blocks you must lay in order to make this happen:
#1: Create an Environment That Results in Employee Well–Being
#2: Hire Employees With Desire and Enthusiasm for Achieving Great Results
#3: Provide Incentives that Sustain Optimal Motivation
Last week we focused on the Ladder of Inference. Here is a quick summary of the rungs of the ladder:
- I observe what is happening around me.
- I select data from what I see and hear.
- I add meaning to what I have selected based on my own beliefs, experiences, etc.
- I make assumptions based on the meaning I have added.
- I draw conclusions that help fill in the gaps and prompt feelings, positive or negative, about the situation.
- I adopt beliefs about the world based on my conclusions.
- I take actions based on my beliefs and feelings.
Our trip up the ladder can happen in just seconds, and we may not be aware of the process. The ladder is also a reflexive loop – our beliefs from past events drive the selection and meaning we assign in future events.
What Does This Mean For Employees And Their Motivations?
It means that employees are continually assessing their work experiences based on their beliefs about how it impacts them personally, and whether their needs are being met.
While personal needs will vary from person to person based on their prior experiences, beliefs and personality, he needs that most employees have, which impact motivations, include the following:
- Basic safety in terms of their organization and position.
- To trust, and be trusted by, their leader and peers.
- Autonomy and control over their job.
- Connections, positive relationships and collaboration with others.
- Feedback and recognition for their contributions.
- Growth and development.
- Alignment with the purpose and goals of the organization.
Based on the degree that their needs are met, they then make assumptions and conclusions about the organization. These, in turn, prompt feelings about their situation, and their leader.
If they feel good about their situation, employees are more likely to have a sense of well-being and be motivated to do good work for the leader and the organization. They will be more engaged and have more enthusiasm for their work. Specifically, it can impact business fundamentals such as customer satisfaction, quality of products and services, initiative, turnover and so forth.
Next week we’ll explore Employee Well-Being in more depth.