EQ WORKOUT #76 The Key to Employee Motivation

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There’s one question that leaders and managers ask a lot: how do I motivate my employees? And while employee motivation is certainly a good thing to have, this is the wrong question.

Instead, leaders should ask: how do I create an environment in which my employees are motivated?

The difference here is that one assumes that the leader is able to motivate someone else. In reality, though, each individual needs to be self-motivated to make any real and impactful change. The difference is between two types of motivation:

  • Extrinsic motivation: This is what happens outside of us, such as a bonus or perk. This type of motivation can be short-lasting and not sustainable.
  • Intrinsic motivation: This comes from within and creates a sustained sense of motivation over a long time.

When leaders focus on building an environment in which employees are intrinsically motivated to do their best, they are on the right track. Here are seven ways that managers can create a motivating environment for their team.

7 Ways to Foster Employee Motivation

Each of these seven areas is something that leaders can do to foster motivation in the workplace. It’s not about “forcing” someone to be motivated but creating the conditions in which they will naturally be more motivated to do their best.

1. Values and vision

It’s important for all leaders to start out in their role with a clear, thought-out vision of what they want to accomplish. They need to identify their values and how those values align with their day-to-day work.

Once this is clear, they can communicate it to their team. Everyone wants to belong to something purposeful and meaningful. Employees are looking to align their values with those of their leader and company. So, leaders should identify and communicate their values and vision so that employees have something to align with and be motivated by!

2. Employee recognition

We all want to be recognized for the good work we do! Recognition can be extrinsic, such as a gift or bonus. But it also can be intrinsic and show employees that they are a meaningful part of the organization.

The key to recognition is to make it personal. Leaders need to listen to and get to know their employees’ dreams, goals, aspirations, and talents. It’s only then that they can give genuine, heartfelt, and personalized recognition. This makes a world of difference to the employee—knowing your valued is key to motivation at work.

3. Autonomy

Everyone desires control over their schedules and lives. People love that flexibility in deciding what to do and when! To achieve that in the workplace, leaders need to avoid micromanaging and know when to delegate their responsibilities to someone else.

All leaders should do a periodic delegation audit: look at everything on their plate and identify what they can pass on to someone else. Then, empower them to do that thing! Autonomy breeds motivation, so pass on what you can and trust your employees to do a good job.

4. Environment

Studies show that the environment plays a huge role in employee motivation. Light, bright, and open spaces are naturally better for productivity and motivation. But if that’s not possible due to the workspace, leaders should focus on creating a positive, trusting environment for people to work in.

5. Clarity around the advancement

People want to know what it takes to get to the next level. When there’s a clear, laid-out pathway to career advancement, employees are motivated to walk it! If it’s unclear how to get there or any perceptions that career advancement is too difficult to achieve, employees’ motivation will suffer.

Leaders need to be clear in communicating the pathway for advancement and actively walk with their team and mentor them in that direction.

6. Transparency

Openness and transparency build trust, which is essential for employees to feel motivated. As soon as they think you are hiding something from them, the trust is broken. Why work hard and do your best for someone you don’t trust? Transparency is key.

7. Input

It can be very motivating when you know that your voice and opinion are heard and holds weight. As a leader, create space and systems for employees to give their opinion, identify problems, and suggest solutions. Draw from the depth of knowledge on your team and they’ll be more motivated to keep doing their best work.

Motivation is what makes employees and workplaces thrive. It boosts productivity and helps everyone do their best on the job! But it’s impossible to motivate other people. Instead, leaders need to think about what conditions create a motivating environment. Tap into that intrinsic motivation and you’ll see the difference in your team.