If you are only running surveys and have cool office perks, your employees will turn into daytime zombies who will quit after they hit the two-year mark. If you are really serious about improving your employee motivation, you need to understand the unique drivers of engagement and piece them all together.
Employee motivation is a complex issue that does not come easy to most companies. And here is Gallup’s chart to prove the point.
Now, things aren’t hopeless. In today’s guide, you will learn how you can profoundly motivate your people in the workplace encouraging them to stay productive and bring their full power to your organization.
1. Put Your Team in the Driver’s Seat
Involving employees in decision making is key to employee motivation. Now, a great number of managers and team leaders have a tendency to tell employees exactly what needs to be done. Worse, they want to have the ultimate control over the projects seconding guessing each and every action that a direct takes. The result?
You get an environment where every worker feels disconnected from the work that they do. After all, they are treated as an instruction-taking zombie whose opinion does not really matter. That is why it is crucial to put your team in the driver’s seat and empower them to weigh in every time a decision needs to be made.
Here is what you can do for a start:
- Ask your directs to present their opinions on small and big decisions connected to their department;
- Let your people find their own path to achieve daily/weekly/quarterly goals.
Now, as a leader, you will be tempted to make a call yourself — resist the urge. If you empower your employees to act like owners, they will never feel disengaged.
2. Engage Employees Through Your Company Mission
If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea. Now, for a person to be motivated at work, they need to be aware of and be connected to the company’s mission. If they are, these people will be the ones to take help your organization reach its true north.
Now, this all starts from over-communicating how the work that your people do has a profound impact on the whole company and possibly the world as a whole. Why? People don’t want to work for another money-making organization from Kentucky. They want to work on something that is inspiring. Here is an example from Starbucks:
Its mission statement is To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. As you can tell, their mission is not to produce and sell the best coffee in the world. Instead, they want to create a human connection with its customers via coffee. And that is in part how they managed to hire the best people, generate a ton of profit, and create one of the best customer experience.
The problem, however, is that you cannot print your mission statement, hang it on the poster, and expect everyone to follow it. So how do you go about over-communicating your mission to your employees to keep them engaged? There are several ways you can go about it:
- Introduce OKRs (Objective-Key Result-Tasks) to help your people align with your vision by defining their own quarterly goals;
- Continually articulate your organization’s mission via all possible mediums: all-hands meetings, company newsletters, in person, etc.
By enabling your people to understand the bigger picture of where the company is headed, you will have people eager to run with you.
3. Allow for Personal Growth and Development
Another big part of keeping your people motivated in the workplace is continually offering personal development opportunities. Because when an employee stops developing professionally — they plateau and get bored. Ultimately, they start looking for better career prospects or start a side business, which might turn into a full-time gig.
A study conducted by Gallup found that 87 percent of Millennials consider professional development opportunities to be among the top three factors that keep them from jumping ship. OK, so how do you allow your people to develop professionally? Will taking your employees to Europe to attend some kind of workshop make them stay with the company for the long haul?
So here is what you can do instead:
- Ask your people what skills necessary for the job they want to develop and what you can do specifically to make that happen;
- Introduce a personal development fund and encourage your employees to spend money on personal growth opportunities;
- Consider using the Individual Development Plan (IDP) tool, which is designed to help people develop professionally.
When employees know that you honestly want to help them achieve their goals and realize their ambitions — they are sure to take notice and reciprocate.
4. Treat Failures as Your Best Friends
The importance of treating failure in a positive way is indisputable when it comes to boosting your motivation level. Still, most managers think that failure is a bad thing and would call out people’s mistakes without extracting and sharing the lessons learned from the experience (of course!).
And even when they do try to learn from failure, most managers would ask people to self reflect on what went wrong and avoid such mistakes in the future. And this is fundamentally wrong.
Failure is inevitable for the overwhelming majority of organizations, and particularly for those where experimentation is in place (think startups, SMBs, etc.). Therefore, managers must switch from who did it to what’s happened attitude when things go wrong. We believe that managers need to make people feel both comfortable admitting to failure and learning from it.
Through building and reinforcing a culture of learning. Managers need to encourage workers to report small and large failures to managers who would then analyze them. To get your people to admit to making a mistake, your company needs to exercise transparency as well:
- Continuously share the details about your plans, revenue, and your priorities.
- Emphasize that nothing is off-limits. Be honest with your people and ask to return a favor. And with time, they will.
While failure is inevitable in today’s complex organizations, learning from failure can pave the way to success and engagement.
Keeping your employees glowing can be overwhelming. Worse, it is going to take quite a lot of time and effort before things start to work out. But over time, you will create a highly engaged environment with teams ready to help your organization reach its true north.
Max Woolf is a writer. He’s passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries. You can hit him up on LinkedIn.