How to Create a Motivating and Satisfying WorkplaceBy Renee Warren on June 19, 2012 in How To...
Thousands of job advertisements looking for “ambitious, highly motivated” employees indicate that the popular belief is that motivation leads to satisfaction (for everyone). Perhaps that’s why so many companies are falling behind in the talent war.
The truth is that satisfaction leads to motivation. How can employers expect new employees to be motivated about the success of the company’s vision? All they know about the company is what they’ve gathered from Google searches. It’s up to the employer to satisfy four main requirements that, in turn, motivate employees.
1. Take money off the table
Money is a form of motivation, but almost exclusively for physical workers. When cognitive or creative thinking is required, money as a motivator has been proven ineffective. In fact, studies by McKinsey and others have found that cognitive and creative workers perform poorly when money is offered as a motivator.
What does that mean for employers? It means ditching the out-of-date monetary performance bonuses. It means realizing that money’s motivational power has its limits. Specifically, money is a motivator until the issue of money is off the table. In other words, once you are paying employees enough that they don’t need to worry about money, the power of raises and bonuses diminishes.
Takeaway: Pay your employees enough to take money off the table completely. Don’t leave them worrying about covering the cable bill; satisfy monetary need to keep them focused on the company’s success. Give them tasks and projects they want to do. Then give them recognition for a job well done. No amount of money can create the same level of long term satisfaction then that.
2. Give back the control
You’ve heard it a million times: autonomy is a big priority for employees. Well, it’s true! Employees want to take ownership of projects and goals. They want the freedom to experiment and try new things. They want to own their own successes and failures. The days of the overbearing boss are gone.
This means micromanaging is out. After you’ve determined that an employee is capable of completing the job herself, it’s time to back off. Providing guidance and checking in from time to time is healthy (and helpful), but breathing down an employee’s neck decreases job satisfaction. Learn the difference between dumping and delegating.
Takeaway: Let your employees breathe by satisfying the need for autonomy. Once you’ve vetted their skills, take a few steps back and let them take the lead. You’ll have more time for your own work, employees will be satisfied and motivation will shoot through the roof.
3. Position for success
Empowering your employees is important. Employers have to play a crucial supportive role in today’s workplace. They must ensure that employees are well equipped, physically and mentally, to reach their goals. Whether it means finding coachable moments to provide tidbits of support, or access to training programs, employers are responsible for coaching their team to success.
Employers looking to cultivate a motivated team of go-getters have to learn to step back and let employees shine. Accepting credit for an employee’s idea and leaving employees to fend for themselves are ancient ideologies.
Takeaway: Embrace your supportive role by identifying employee roadblocks and discussing how you can eliminate them. To increase motivation, satisfy the need for personal success and show employees specifically how that relates to company success.
4. Let creativity flow
This requirement goes hand-in-hand with giving back control. It’s all about eliminating the factors that prevent creativity. It might mean something as simple as opening a suggestion or idea box. Or, it might mean allowing employees to spend a certain percent of their time embracing “intrapreneurship” and working on whatever they’d like.
Regardless of the specific method, one thing is clear: good and bad ideas are a thing of the past. Creativity is not an exact science, which means your team might have been really passionate about what turned out to be a not-so-great idea. Letting creativity flow means allowing room for error and allowing failure.
Takeaway: Create a culture where everyone’s ideas are heard and appreciated. Develop a “there’s no such thing as a stupid idea” atmosphere. With the need for creativity and room to fail (as well as succeed) covered, just sit back and watch the motivation level rise.
By the time these four requirements are satisfied by the employer, the employee is truly motivated to achieve company goals. A culture of teamwork, innovation and ambition has been established – and it’s contagious. Employers need to accept responsibility for job satisfaction and, thus, employee motivation. The truth is that everyone is motivated to achieve something, but it’s up to employers to ensure that something is their company’s success.
What are some great motivational techniques and activities you’ve brought to your workplace?