Motivation and how to motivate your staff
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Motivation and how to motivate your staff

Motivated or Wading through Custard?

Have you ever noticed how things seem much easier when people are motivated?  Trying to get things done when we are unmotivated is like trying to wade through custard – very difficult!

As a manager, I like to surround myself with motivated staff.  They are the ones who like to get things done and perform well.

In this blog, I am going to look at the two types of motivation, why motivation is important and an approach you can use to motivate yourself and others.

There are two main types of motivation:

Intrinsic motivation comes from within ourselves.  Having a personal desire to do something; perhaps producing high quality work is important to you or maybe you see difficult tasks as a challenge.  If you are intrinsically motivated, this will give you a lot of satisfaction.

Extrinsic motivation is when you try to motivate others by offering them something external i.e. a pay increase or additional time off work.  Even a threat of losing their job could be seen as extrinsic motivation!

With this knowledge in mind, it is important to remember that every member of your team is different and they are very likely to be motivated by different things.  Therefore as managers, we must get to know our team members and find out what motivates them.  It is also good practice to use intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation.

Why is motivation important?

If you and your staff are motivated, it will help you as a leader to meet and maybe even exceed your own goals and achieve organisational success. However, if your team is demotivated, you could find yourself in a very dangerous position. Finding yourself at this stage gives you two choices, find another job or fix the motivation problems in your team.  I hope that by reading this article, you will choose the second option!

There are many motivation theories out there i.e. Maslow, Herzberg, Vroom etc., and each has stood the test of time.  A more recent approach to motivation was developed by organisational researcher and consultant, David Sirota, in The Enthusiastic Employee (2005).

The three basic principles about motivating employees are:

1. The organisation’s goals should not be in conflict with individual goals.

2. Individuals have basic needs that organisations should try to meet.

3. Individual enthusiasm is a source of competitive advantage.

As a starting point it is important to recognise that when people start a new job role they are generally enthusiastic and have high levels of motivation.  According to Sirota’s theory, over time this state of motivation reduces as a result of bad practices and poor working conditions.

Therefore Sirota identified 3 factors, which together build enthusiasm and motivation:

1. Equity/Fairness – Individuals want to be treated fairly.

In the workplace, we expect to be rewarded and recognised in proportion to our effort and the value our efforts have brought for the employer.  However, we compare ourselves to others and how they are treated.  If we feel that someone else is being treated more favourably for the same or indeed, easier work then we will feel aggrieved.  For managers, it can be hard to ensure that everyone feels like they have been treated fairly often because staff feel that the value they are adding is greater than their managers’ assessment of their efforts.  However when it comes to giving employees bad news i.e. they have been overlooked for a promotion, the use of fairness helps.  If staff can accept that the process used was a fair one, they are more likely to accept the outcome.

2. Achievement – Staff want to do meaningful, important work and gain recognition for this.

Achievement can be mutually beneficial; for the employer it means getting things done.  However for the staff member it is not as simple.  Firstly the goals that have been set for them must be meaningful and challenging, otherwise there will be no sense of achievement!  That said, they must match the individuals’ abilities and they must be provided with the resources and support to achieve their goals.  Recognition is a big motivator.  However, knowing the personalities of your team members will help too.  Knowing which team members enjoy receiving recognition and those who just like to get on with it with little praise will help the manager get the best out of each team member and maintain their motivation.

3. Camaraderie –good relationships with their colleagues are important.

We spend a large proportion of our lives in the workplace and for the majority of us, friendship and camaraderie are important to us.  We are a social species and we like to interact with others.  Good working relationships are important and with that levels of trust increase and with that, our motivation.  A common problem in many organisations is that managers can (often unwittingly) set people against each other, for example, via a reward system.  This can create competition and can lead to people holding back and not helping each other.  It can also create a less friendly environment and the camaraderie can decline. A way around this is for the manager to introduce shared, team goals to encourage everyone to work together and foster the team spirit. Having camaraderie in your team is a result of good leadership.

‘What does this mean to me?’

What does this mean to me? you may be asking.  Well, if you are seeking to motivate the individuals within your teams you need to consider how you can create fair and equitable systems that help people achieve.   Remember too, to try to build the social side of the workplace – it’s important!

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