Myth #1. It’s important to motivate your employees.
Maybe you’ve been told or, worse yet, taught that myth, but it’s impossible! When you put logic to that statement, you realize that motivation is an internal attribute and cannot be done to someone else. So what is all this talk about motivation? Is it not a good thing to attempt to motivated employees? Well, let’s consider what motivated employees would look like in the workplace.
Motivated employees come to work and eagerly contribute to the greater good of the organization and the team. They would collaborate and cooperate; they willingly do more than expected. Motivated employees take their concerns, suggestions and considerations to their supervisor with no fear of retribution because they feel fully heard and fairly treated. So if you cannot motivate someone, what can you do to ensure your employees function as motivated workforce?
First, we must understand what makes an employee person look forward to coming to work. Studies show one of the main factors is employees feel appreciated and their contributions are valued. They trust their supervisor will treat them and their teammates fairly and honestly, and they feel trusted by their supervisor. They also believe problems are identified, resolved and treated as learning opportunities rather than a causes for punishment or resentment.
These management behaviors are what create such an environment, and staff "feel motivated" and act accordingly. Please note, I am not talking about leadership or guidance. This is strictly referring to the "myth" that motivation can be instilled. Just as you are unable to instill an attribute, such as security, in another person, you are able to create an environment in which they feel safe.
The second question is this – Since you cannot implant the “motivation” trait, are you creating an environment where your employees feel motivated? When I hear a manager complain about an employee not being motivated, my first question is, “What are you doing to create a Motivational Environment?”
Ask yourself the following questions, honestly and with some humility, and then decide what you can do to create a Motivational Environment.
- Do my employees feel fully heard and fairly treated?
- Do I chastise the team for one person’s misconduct?
- Do I encourage my staff to come to me with suggestions for process improvements?
- Do I avoid staff issues, hoping they will resolve themselves?
- Do I trust my employees? (If not, they won’t trust you.)
- Am I as transparent as I can be regarding information, change and/or decisions?
- Do I openly complain about the organization and/or upper management?
- Do I dismiss their needs or concerns as unimportant or childish?
The Motivation Myth may be an illusion but a Motivational Environment is real, is possible and is what you will want, and need to create.
Check back next week for Myth #2