When it comes to employee motivation, some managers say, "Motivation comes from within. I can't motivate other people!" And to some degree, there is truth to this argument. However, savvy managers understand the four key lessons to avoid demotivating employees!
First we must understand that motivation is tied to beliefs. People are motivated by what they believe. Likewise, they can be demotivated by what they don't believe. For example...
The CEO of a company speaks passionately about its approach to working with customers. He says, "We are a customer-focused company! We always put the customer's needs first!" with strong conviction in his voice. Certainly, any employee listening to the CEO talk so passionately about customers would be motivated! However, his statements have the opposite effect on employees. Why? They don't believe him. They knew that a myriad of internal problems caused the company to be inward facing, rather than customer facing. They knew that internal processes and systems caused customer needs to come second to internal needs. They couldn't believe the CEO's statements, resulting in demotivation and frustration about their inability to meet customer needs.
Lesson 1: When what employees believe isn't in alignment with what they see and hear around them, they become demotivated. How can a manager impact an employee's beliefs? By their ACTIONS. If the CEO of the company led an effort to eliminate the internal issues that kept it from serving customers, people would start to believe him when he said that customers were a priority. They might even feel motivated to make his statements a reality!
Lesson 2: If an employee doesn't believe that increased effort will lead to increased performance, they become demotivated. What causes an individual who works hard not to get the desired performance, and become demotivated? One possibility is an employee who doesn't have all the necessary skills or tools to do a job. This often occurs with new employees. They come in highly motivated and ready to go! But if they're not trained, or don't have the necessary resources, all the effort in the world doesn't matter. Motivation wanes.
Lesson number 3: If an employee attains high performance, but doesn't believe that performance will result in a desired outcome, such as recognition, increased compensation, etc., that employee will become demotivated. The key is in understanding how to avoid this situation. Some ways include making it clear up front what "high performance" means, and explaining how that performance will be rewarded.
Lesson number 4: An employee's effort could lead to performance, and the performance could lead to a desired outcome (reward), but the person may not believe that the outcome will be satisfying to them. The reward is not perceived as a reward, and may even be perceived as a punishment! Consider the salesperson that exceeds his target, and is recognized by getting a higher target for the next year-instead of the promotion he expected. Demotivated? Absolutely! Or the individual who works hard, and is rewarded with higher salaries. However, as time goes on, the money becomes less satisfying, and the individual feels demotivated. A true reward might be time off to spend with his family.
So, when motivating employees, remember that actions can speak louder than words. If even one of the lessons outlined isn't in alignment, demotivation can occur. Helping to re-establish the belief is how we influence motivation-and avoid demotivation-in others!
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