Why Motivation Matters

We all want our employees to be motivated. Of course we do. We know motivated workers work harder. But WHAT are they motivated to do? That’s a much more important question.

In a recent Conference Board Review article, Geoff Loftus noted:

“In companies that don’t care about motivation, workers right on up through middle management routinely cut corners on the quality of jobs, provide poorer customer service, spend more time on personal phone calls and at longer lunches, and worst of all, escape from the dreariness of their jobs for hours at a time on the Internet. … To coin a phrase: An ounce of motivation is worth a pound of monitoring.”

I’d say those workers are fairly well motivated – motivated to just get through the day and go home, that is. We’ve all worked with colleagues who seem to be motivated in the same way. Others are motivated by far worse than Internet surfing – pure greed. Think the latest scandals in the financial world.

The job of the manager and leader is to help employees be motivated for the right reasons. You cannot motivate employees. You can provide reasons for them to motivate themselves. You can define what it is that is most helpful to the team and company and then frequently and appropriately recognize and reward behaviors and actions that meet those definitions. You can encourage, you can appreciate, you can thank.

How would you rather spend your time? Helping employees find reasons to be positively motivated through frequent recognition of excellent work, or constantly monitoring employees to reduce slacker behavior?

2 comment(s):

At July 18, 2010 2:30 AM, Franelyn said...

This is very true. The first principle of motivation states that. you cannot motivate an individual. It's funny, when I ask my class (leadership classes- composed of supervisors, managers and directors at work)if they can motivate their people, they always say yes. All jaws drop when i reveal the first principle. The second principle definitely answers why they can't. Second principle states that, all inidividuals are motivated. All of us have our own set of reasons why we work hard or live. We have our family, kids and some extended families to help(common here in the Philippines). What a leader can do is to find that motivator and provide the environment for it.

It's funny that everytime I audit these leaders on their coaching sessions, I hear them say," I will be happy if you perform". It's great to make your people feel that you are happy with their progress but that won't be the reason of why they up their performance a notch. Third principle of motivation states that, 'people work for their reasons not yours.'

Great post, I hope to read more from you!


At July 18, 2010 8:05 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Many thanks, Franelyn. I very muc like that third principle: "People work for their reasons, not yours."

A good manager understands this principle is true. A great manager figures out what those reasons are and works to encourage them further.