It is a fact that we as managers should accept – our people perform better when they feel positive about their job.
In my view, we absolutely must:
- Recognize that active motivation is necessary
- Resolve to spend regular time on it
- Not chase after magic formulae that will make it easy (there are none)
- Give attention to the detail
- Remember that we succeed by creating an impact that is cumulative in effect and tailored to our people
Our intention should be to make people feel individually, and as a group, that they are special. Doing so is the first step to making sure that what they do is special.
Every manager needs to know something of how motivation works. The key is to influence the motivational climates by taking action to:
Reduce negative influences. Potentially, the good feelings people have about their jobs can be diluted by negative views on matters such as: company policy and administrative processes, supervision (that’s us, unless we are careful!) working conditions, salary, relationships with peers (and others), impact on personal life, status and security.
Action is necessary in all these areas to counteract any negative elements.
Increase positive influences. Potentially feelings can be strengthened by specific inputs in the areas of: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth.
Many factors contribute to the motivational climate – from ensuring that a system is as sensible and convenient to people as possible (reducing negative policy/working conditions), to just saying ‘well done!’ sufficiently often (recognizing achievement).
The state of motivation of a group or individual can be likened to a balance. There are pluses on one side and minuses on the other. All vary in size. The net effect of all the influences at a particular time, decides the state of the balance and whether – overall – things are seen as positive, or not.
Changing the balance is thus a matter of detail with, for example, several small positive factors being able to outweigh what is seen as a major dis-satisfier.
A Little Thought Goes A Long Way
We need to make it clear from the outset that we are concerned that people get job satisfaction. Major schemes can wait. Early on:
- Take the motivational temperature – investigate how people feel now (this is what we have to work on).
- Consider the motivational implications of everything we do – when implementing a new system, making a change, setting up a new regular meeting or whatever, consider what people will think about it? Will they see it as positive?
- Use the small things – regularly – for example, if asked if we have said ‘well done!’ often enough lately, we must always be able to answer yes – honestly.
- Never be censorious – we must not judge other people’s motivation by our own feelings. Maybe they worry about things that strike us as silly or unnecessary. So be it. The job is to deal with it, not to rule it out as insignificant.
Creating the habit of making motivation a key part of our management style will undoubtedly stand us in good stead.
Finally, my last piece of advice: Resolve now – right now – that you will give motivation priority. Don’t be mistaken, motivation makes a difference – a big difference.
If you care about your people (really care) it will always show.