Organisations which suffer from a lack of initiative coming from their people can often find the solution to their problem internally, in the systemic roots of their corporate culture.
Those organisations which experience a high level of initiative from their people have understood a great deal about what motivates people in the workplace.
Some corporate cultures act in a way that effectively blocks creativity, initiative and finally motivation of its people by initiating rigid control from management that stifles and kills it.
A highly motivated workforce can make the difference between an organisation that produces great results and capitalises, fully on the potential of their people, in a highly competitive world and one which just survives.
Understanding the forces which motivate people is a learnt skill, which not only influences the motivation, but which also facilitates organisational learning, whilst reducing negative conflict in the workplace.
Many organisations favour reward, usually financial, in an attempt to increase motivation, or sometimes to assuage negative conflict, which is not only a flawed concept, but also a short-term pacifier, compared to the long-term effects of self-motivation.
In order to foster self-motivation, organisations need to discover what exactly motivates their people, and there are many ways to do this, as long as they keep in mind the many different needs that people have and which, ultimately, motivate them.
Here are 25 tips to help managers motivate their people :
1. What motivates you? – Before looking at what motivates others, have a close look at your own motivation. What motivates you may not motivate others.
2. Make work enjoyable – This does not mean that it has to be easy – just look at offices such as Google or Apple to see how they get great results from their people by making the environment fun.
3. Check the body language – this is a good window into the person, if people look miserable during their work, this is often a tell-tale sign that motivation levels are down.
4. Get people involved – implicating people in simple things, such as the set out of the office or improvements to the way that work is carried-out can help raise motivation levels.
5. Measuring Motivation and morale is not a one-shot phenomena, this needs to be carried-out on a regular basis. Prevention is better than cure – don’t wait until stress and motivation levels are so high that working becomes impossible – plan and act in advance.
6. Clarify roles and jobs. Ensure that clear job descriptions are set out and people know what is expected of them, lack of clarity often results in lack of motivation. Avoid, on the other hand, restricting and penning people in with “barred-cage” job descriptions – all we need is clarity, with room for maneuver.
7. Communication – Ensure in-company and inter-departmental communication is clear, unambiguous, regular and delivered in time, without going for information overload, which can be viewed as superfluous and even patronising – aim for a fine-balance on communication issues.
8. Encourage a culture where disagreement is not taboo – there needs to be a way that disagreement can be channelled and discussed effectively in order to help bring about learning and improvements – we are not talking about disagreement for the sake of disagreement, but to improve systems, processes and working life.
9. Encourage ideas generation among your people – if you use or refuse ideas, give fair, objective justification for your reasons – in a positive way to ensure that the ideas keep coming.
10. Allow people use their initiative where appropriate, feed back on the results but ensure that people are supported. Initiative needs to be carefully fed-back on, seen as an aspiration for your people but one which is not a cavalier attitude where people just do what they like. Initiative could be the way that they do things and even when they do tasks, but not a question of choosing between the dull and juicy tasks.
11. Set stretch objective – If you think small – that is usually what you end up getting! Ensure the objectives are seen as a challenge and that they are achievable. Unreachable objectives are an excellent way to demotivate people – implicate people in the building and monitoring of objectives in the organisation – see next point.
12. Implicate people in objective setting, it is very difficult to refuse an objective that we have set ourselves, if we are involved in the setting of an objective, we are also a stakeholder – ensuring that it is achieved.
13. If things aren’t working, try something else. If your processes and systems aren’t working, the worst thing to do is to just passively accept that ‘this is just the way things are’ – try changing them, with the input of your people. rectifying bad systems and processes is a great way to boost morale.
14. Give feedback – giving regular, objective and clear feedback is setting a precedent for what you expect from your people, create a clear dialogue between people that is the norm and not the exception.
15. Bad news – if there is bad news to deliver, ensure that you are the one that delivers it first before it is bent out of shape as it takes its supersonic flight around the corridors of the organisation.
16. Talk to people, not at them – instead of just greeting people on a day-to-day basis, then meeting them during times of crisis, try to set time aside to talk to people – the time is not wasted and the information that you learn is priceless. Make people feel like people who count, not just a number.
17. Be careful with financial rewards – these can be great de-motivators as well as motivators. people are paid to do a job well, find other ways of rewarding them that addresses recognition for achievements, but which may not be money-related.
18. Underusing talent and skills is very demotivating, try to get the best out of your people, in tune with their talents and abilities.
19. Training – encourage people to enrol in training that will help them with their jobs and ensure that they have the time, support and resources to participate fully in the training. When the training has been completed, ensure that their new skills are used fully in the workplace.
20. Delegation – encourage good delegation to develop people’s skills in the workplace and also to inject a level of variety in people’s jobs. Good delegation is a way for managers to assess the skills of their people but must be undertaken rationally, fairly and followed up on.
21. Rewards clarity – ensure that your people are paid for the results and the initiative that they take rather than for status and seniority -otherwise everybody is heading for the same dead-end direction.
22. Demotivation – If people are showing signs of demotivation – look for the root causes before trying to treat the symptoms. demotivation can be caused by personal problems, stress or a host of other reasons not directly related to the organisation – take informed steps only after having discovered the causes.
23. Be an example as often as possible. Steer clear of office politics and other forms of demotivators – watch your tone and body language – would you be demotivated by you?
24. Learn from your people. If you are involved in the annual appraisal process, get staff to appraise you too, it’s amazing what you can learn from others, by looking at things from their point of view. This also helps install a culture where blame is not on the daily menu and where team and orgaisational learning are seen as the norm and not the exception.
25. Create healthy competition between workers and teams with a view to encouraging a culture of high achievement – reward this in a way that marks the occasion, money cannot do this, a cup or certificate can help as a good motivator.
The carrot and stick notion of motivation is clearly old hat – it does not work any more, if it ever did…