Workplace motivation is one of those topics which seem to be constantly discussed by managers, written about by authors and sometimes even laughed at by employees. Every employer motivates the employees to do some sort of work. At the simplest level this is just a paycheck, but for successful companies it needs to be much more than that. Understanding motivation is essential to get the best performance out of your team and also to help keep them functioning as an engaged workforce.
When managers attempt to motivate their employees to work harder or produce better results they have a few options available to them. They can attempt to motivate with fear, threatening to punish individuals if they don’t perform at the desired level. They can also attempt to motivate using rewards, offering bonus’s or rewards for performing well. While at first glance these methods seem to be the employer motivating the employee in one way or another, it is actually just the employer bringing out the self-motivation in the employee.
The problem with using either of the two methods above is that they only result in short term motivation. If someone is constantly under the threat of being fired, they will find another job. Once someone gets the raise they were fighting for, they will revert back to their previous levels of productivity. To have success motivating employees over the long term it is important to create an environment which encourages people to become self-motivated.
There are several things which have been proven to help engage employees and keep them motivated for many months or even years. Creating an environment which fosters these key conditions is essential. The first condition is that employees should understand their role in the organization and why they are important both as part of a team and an individual.
This gives people a sense of purpose and a feeling of importance. When they know they are contributing to something important, they will be more inclined to feel motivated to do their best.
The next aspect of the work environment which needs to be addressed is the leadership team. When people work for a strong leader who is competent and trustworthy they are much more likely to remain motivated, even without a threat of punishment or the promise of a tangible reward. A good leader is an invaluable part of any successful team.
Finally, the overall character of an organization is also very important. When people are proud to work for a company they will want to work hard to help ensure the success of their department, and the company as a whole.
Customized Rewards & Punishments
While rewards and punishments are not effective long term strategies for developing self-motivated employees, they are great for getting through short term issues. To ensure any system of rewards and punishments is as successful as possible it is critical that both the rewards and punishments are tailored to specific employees. Finding out what types of things motivate people is very important and can help improve results.
Some people, for example, will work hardest for an extra day or two of vacation. Others will be more motivated by a bonus or a raise. Still others are motivated by public recognition. Finally, remember that punishment should be used sparingly and only as a last resort or it will end up causing more long term problems than it does short term solutions.