The motivation levels of a team or workforce are key indicator of employee performance and stability. Businesses and teams that can sustain generally high levels of motivation amongst their people significantly outperform those who can not. A highly motivated highly skilled employee is up to 16x more productive than a lowly motivated employee. A highly motivated employee is also much more likely to stick around. If we start factoring in the costs associated with employee turnover, sickness (lowly motivated employees take more sick days) and lost productivity it becomes very apparent very quickly that motivation levels should be high up on the agenda of any business or team.
Moving away from the business case and towards the individual case, one being engaged in and motivated by their work is essential for good health. The average working adult spends 50% of their waking hours working on any weekday. If they don't look forward to or feel motivated by that work, their quality of life and overall health is being damaged.
Before I go into some basic steps you can take to improve and sustain motivation levels in your team or business, it's important to understand that motivation and satisfaction are two different things. Many team leaders and businesses fall into the employee satisfaction trap. This might sound strange coming from someone who runs a business called Better Happy but improving motivation levels is not about simply making your staff Happy. When we fall into the trap of just focussing on satisfying our staff, we run a serious risk of creating a culture of entitlement where employees become focussed on getting more without necessarily giving more.
A culture of high motivation requires not employee satisfaction, but employee business partnership. The employee needs to be committed to the success of the business, and the business needs to be committed to the development of the employee. When this partnership is present and both partners continue to work on their half of the partnership, businesses, teams and individuals flourish. So let's look at three ways businesses and team leaders can support their people to develop by improving motivation levels.
1 - Educate Yourself & Your Team on Motivation
We've just covered how pivotal motivation levels are to the success of businesses and teams as well as the success and health of individuals, yet it's a widely neglected topic.
Making sure that leaders and team members understand the basics of motivation and know that it's a priority within an organisation is a great first step to improving it. Some key points to share are:
Personality profiles/Strengths profiles tell us about how we naturally behave and what we are naturally good at
Motivators tell us what energises us, what makes us feel good
Two people can have very similar personalities and strengths but be motivated by entirely different things. This explains why one highly capable mathematician might choose to work for a bank and another equally capable mathematician choose to work for less salary in a new ecological startup.
It's akin to having two of the same models of a car but one with a petrol engine and one a diesel. The fuel is the motivator that moves them. Although they both look and function very similarly, they need different things to get and keep them moving.
Once a team and individuals understand that people are motivated differently they can not only better understand themselves but also better understand and communicate with others.
To familiarise yourself and your team with different motivators I'd highly recommend using the Motivational Mapping motivational profiles that have been derived from other profiling tools such as The Enneagram and Edgar Schein's Career Anchors shown below that lead on to point 2:
2 - Identify Unique Motivators
The next and logical step is to actually identify the unique motivational breakdown of yourself and your people. Again, for this, there is no better tool than Motivation Maps. It's best to do this with a practitioner but you can still derive great benefit from implementing a much simpler and cost-free approach.
Share the table above with your team in a workshop. Ask them to label their top 3 motivators 1-3. After this ask them to score each of those motivators on how important they are to them. If they are extremely important to them ask them to place a 10 next to them. If they are not very important ask them to put a 5 or less next to them.
The downside of doing this manually and not via the motivational mapping questionnaire is that people may not be truly honest about what motivates them and may also get stuck in indecision - but it's still powerful.
After this, you can create a table or a spreadsheet to show each team member next to one another and if you're fancy you can weigh up the team profile as a whole.
Motivational mapping practitioners such as myself do this for you automatically.
From this exercise alone you and the members of your team will start to generate a much clearer picture of what it is that motivates your team as a whole and the individuals within it. From here you can think more strategically about what types of work are most suited to each person as well as what initiatives you could take to drive and maintain high motivation levels.
3- Measure and Track Motivation Levels
This third point is the easiest to implement. Simply tracking motivation levels can give leaders and businesses more insight into the state of their workforce than any other tool or metric. Motivation levels won't tell you what's going right and what's going wrong, but they will tell you very clearly if things are generally going right or generally going wrong.
Measuring motivation doesn't have to be a complicated process. There are lots of different software options out there that do this in some form including (my favourite of course) Motivational Mapping... but before you need to sign up to anything or spend any budget you can simply begin asking your people, 'generally how motivated do you feel at work' with a scale of 1-10. I'd recommend doing this a minimum of four times a year. You can do this via paper forms or through surveying software. It's important to make sure that this is anonymous as people might not give true answers if not. Extra questions you can ask are what team or department do people belong to in order to gain further data insights.
The process of talking about and measuring motivation alone shows employees that leaders /organisations care. Weaving motivation into your culture is key, therefore it's powerful to encourage line managers to ask questions around motivation in 121 check-ins as well. This is done on less of an analytical level and more of a coaching level. i.e. "Can you share with me on a scale of 1-10 generally how motivated you have felt over the last ## week'.. that's great, is there anything I/we can do to get that even higher?"
My final point is to remember that the key to sustainable good levels of motivation is a partnership between the organisation and the employee. The organisation is committed to developing the employee to be the best they can be, the employee is committed to developing the company and helping it be the best it can be. Committing time to learn about and training employees on motivation is a small step organisations can take to fulfil their part of the partnership.
About Mike My vision is businesses and employees that thrive together. I don't believe that employee wellbeing and engagement are challenges.. I believe they are opportunities. With the right insights and approach any business can nurture healthy, happy high performing teams.
Drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org