Motivation (or Why Can’t Everyone Just Do Their Job?)
Remember when it was New Years Day? I’ll bet you had at least three new goals for your work life. Are you feeling as enthusiastic about those goals as you were a few months ago? Realistically, there are some things that are obstacles to reaching your goals, which are out of your control. Often times, reaching those goals necessitates working with and through others to get things done. What do you to keep them motivated through the projects?
While there are some exceptions, most people want to give their best and be their best at work. After all, work, at its best, is the play of adults. It should be fun, inspiring, rewarding and challenging. Too often, for the majority of employees, it’s not. Most organizations get in the way of the simple desire to do well and make it very complicated for people to give their best at work. Obstacles of all kinds make work slow, boring, unnecessarily difficult, fragmented, repetitious and tedious. How then do you identify, judge and remove the obstacles to motivating people at work? Who needs motivation? Why? What are the managers’ responsibilities?
So why don’t employees get the job done? Usually there are three reasons. Regardless of the reasons people may give, the answer may be one of these three:
- They don’t know how. (Do they need training?)
- Something or someone keeps them from it, (Are there obstacles in your area?) or;
- They don’t want to… (Do you know why not?)
Who Needs Motivation?
Determining what motivates a person may be your biggest challenge as a manager. Some people are motivated by their own accomplishments. You know the type. Known as achievers, they set goals and work until they achieve those goals. If everyone were like this, then motivational speakers wouldn’t be making thousands of dollars for an afternoon of speaking and I wouldn’t be writing this article.
Leaders and Slackers
Some people are motivated by the attainment of power and are fairly easy to motivate. Visions of increased responsibility and authority are often enough to compel these types to get the job done. These are the leaders. However, the power seekers, self-motivated, and achievers compose less than 20 % of the population. Another 20% of these are marginal employees who do not set goals that are high enough to ever really achieve anything.
The other 60% rely on less tangible means of motivation. Unfortunately, the bulk of our nation’s employees rely on management to motivate them. What is the usual management response to employee motivation? Generally, management spends 80% of their time trying to get the lowest 20% to produce like the top 20% rather than focusing on the majority in the middle.
Five Steps to Success
A journey toward an empowered, productive and happy workplace begins with the first step.
The first skill is to show that you can lead. Do this two ways” by being efficient and by teaching employees to think for themselves. A manager who is disorganized and inefficient lowers that standard of excellence and creates a state of mediocrity.
Examine the expectations you have for your employees. Do you expect them to put out a high level of productivity if they don’t feel involved in the end result? Are they bored doing the same task over and over and over? Do you accept that boredom as a primary ingredient of their job? Do you feel that allowing them to see the final outcome is unimportant?
When workers don’t see the end result of their activities, it is hard for them to get excited about what they do. It is hard for them to feel any ownership in their work. In fact, the smaller the role a worker has on a given project without positive feedback, the less that person feels like improving his or her output.
When you involve workers and explain their responsibility as it relates to the end product or service, then they know what to expect. Knowing what to expect gives most people a desire to contribute. Not knowing makes too many of them non-caring and ineffective – feelings that create low productivity.
What does efficient mean? It means more than just being neat. It means:
- being competent
It also means not being:
- ignorant of the job needs
- unskilled in getting results
- unable to handle new situations
- lazy, inconsistent and inattentive
Efficiency not only saves time, it makes time to satisfy the other levels of employee satisfaction.
The basis of getting workers to think for themselves is to encourage them to ask questions, to listen and then offer guidance. Over time, they will learn to ask questions in order to discover answers that will serve the best interests of everyone involved.
Here are some questions to help an employee check for understanding:
- What has to happen for this to work?
- And then what? By when?
- What would happen if we didn’t do this?
- Is that the result we want?
- If not, what is the result we want?
- What do we have to do to get it?
- How does this help reach our goal? Your goal?