As a leader, you want your employees engaged, motivated, and eager to come to work. At the same time, you know that everyone looks forward to the weekends and after them repeat the same disparaging remarks about Mondays. While everyone does need downtime, how do you create an environment where employees don’t come back to the office just to collect a paycheck, but because they are genuinely motivated to work and perform well at their job? What will give them the drive for excellence?
Here are some things you can be doing as a leader to increase an employee’s drive to achieve:
1. What to Say
Good communication is key in any aspect of business, but especially when it comes to keeping your employees energized. Everyone wants to feel like there is a purpose in what they do and that they are important, as well. Make sure that you tell each employee how their work is important to the company’s vision and that they are part of something much larger, and how the company impacts the community in some way. Additionally, be transparent and treat them like adults who have just as much of a stake in the company as you do. Keep them updated on how the company is performing, whether good or bad. It may be tempting to shield them from negative information for fear of discouraging them, but according to leadership development consultant John Baldoni, “Shielding employees from bad news is akin to treating them like children; it says they are not ‘grown up’ enough to handle tough stuff.”
2. What to Do
Consider your employees’ values (such as those from the Hogan Values assessment, of tradition, affiliation, recognition, etc.) when placing them in certain roles. These values will determine what drives them, and if those values are aligned with the goals of their position, then you will have an employee who enjoys the satisfaction she feels when she goes home every day and tries to pursue that satisfaction. These intrinsic values and motivations, where people do something because it fulfills their drive for satisfaction and achievement, are important to recognize, claims Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, a book about intrinsic motivation and the ways people pursue more than just external rewards or physical needs. Another way of motivating your employees is to let them take part in decisions regarding the company and their own work. If they see their work as something they can claim for themselves because they took part in developing and building it, they are more personally invested in making sure that the end result is a good one.
3. How to Respond
Keeping your employees working with the confidence that they are on track and don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re doing a good job goes a long way. Giving concrete feedback on a regular basis can be very helpful in keeping them motivated—both in pointing out the places that they can achieve more, and where you can see that they are consistently dependable. Responding in group settings can also keep teams motivated—during a meeting, show that you take everyone’s proposals into account when making decisions. When they all share in moving the company forward, they all share in its successes, and they know it.
How does understanding what motivates your employees play out in your company?