One of the old age questions leaders ask is“How do I motivate my team”? The answer is not as complex as you may think. In fact, there are a number of myths associated with the notion of creating and maintaining a happy, productive work atmosphere that warrant scrutiny at all levels of an organization. Ask yourself if any of these apply and what you can do to focus on creating more motivators and eliminate, or at the very least minimize the existence of demotivators.
Myth # 1: The paycheck is a primary motivator
Although remuneration may initially attract people to a particular job, it isn’t enough to sustain interest, productivity and engagement. In fact, money has never been at the top of the list of workplace motivators, yet is often seen as the key solution in the attraction equation. The allure associated with the overall salary package is tangible and short-term. For leaders, providing a pay cheque may be easier than finding the energy to truly connect one-on-one with everyone on a team. Moreover, when individuals say that they are at work “just for the paycheck”, they are denying the existence of a fundamental intrinsic motivator; i.e. to be recognized as a person with deeper needs… as someone who wants to know that they matter in the grand scheme of their workplace. They have something valuable to offer their employer and if they are unable to tap into their unique worth, then simply “showing up at work” becomes are drudgery and emotionally dissatisfying experience.
Myth # 2: Building in more extrinsic motivators creates a better atmosphere
While it is true that we are all motivated by different things outside of ourselves, the more useful approach for a business in terms of achieving a highly inspired atmosphere is to pay attention to the existence of demotivators, as opposed to the absence of motivators. The most common demotivators include working with chronically negative people, (in management or non-management positions) who successfully drain other peoples’ energy reserves. I have found that a lack of action builds resentment amongst those who desperately want their leadership to deal with these people issues. Another popular belief is that by encouraging people to work longer hours in exchange for a more pay (also known as overtime), people will be motivated to work harder. In effect, longer hours justify a slow-down approach to work and do very little to enhance productivity and profitability. The physiological consequences of overtime are heightened levels of stress, which are in fact demotivators rather than motivators.
Myth #3: Happy people remain satisfied and don’t require as much “nurturing”
There is no doubt that contentment regarding ones workplace and job function is a desired state. However, once we have achieved a sense of fulfillment regarding our work, praise and recognition remain critical as on-going intrinsic motivators. We all require different “strokes” in terms of being acknowledged. A wise leader will recognize the differences between those who seek appreciation privately and publically. Validating effort and results is also an individual responsibility, no matter what our job title may be. Peer recognition is a powerful energizer that is often more meaningful than any other form of appreciation, as we often hold the opinions of our co-workers in the highest regard. Therefore, it behooves us to express admiration and applause for a job well done, regardless of our position.
Photo By Renjith Krishnan