Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Really Motivates Employees

Zig Ziglar, the popular American motivational speaker and self help author, said “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.”

In a recent article several employee motivational myths are debunked:

  1. Many think money motivates but studies show that motivating with money is not effective because it is short lived. Receiving money is periodic in nature and therefore does not continuously motivate individuals.

  2. Keeping employees happy with perks at break time is also not effective since employees want a break. However, enjoyment at breaks does not support to improved performance.

  3. Some try to avoid conflict but this doesn't help anyone. It can result in dissatisfaction and discipline.

  4. There are those that believe some employees can never be motivated. This simply is not true. The reasons people are motivated do vary and the challenge for managers are to find what works for all employees

  5. Some believe that your achievers; those workers who quickly learn, adapt, and produce; don’t need motivation. All employees need motivation. If you don’t motivate those individuals than they will get bored.

It is recognition, not money, which is the real motivator in a down economy. The author David Javitch offers 10 quick ways to motivate your employees. All of which are easy to do and cost nothing. What is missing and probably most important is the frequency with which we motivate people as the quote above highlights.

All you have to do to understand your company’s culture is to ask “What gets rewarded around here?” Because what get’s rewarded gets done. It is important for leaders to ensure their employees are not only working on the right things but that they do so productively. When motivating employees consider what you reward and how you reward it because employees want to be recognized for doing a good job.

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  1. So how does one motivate teams, since in Agile, motivating individuals over teams could lead to the breakdown of the team.

    Also, where is Javitch's list of the 10 "quick ways to motivate"?


    p.s. I think you meant "doesn't" not "does" in #3?

  2. Great points Tim! I also like using Tony Robbins 6 human needs:
    1) Certainty
    2) Variety
    3) Significance
    4) Connection
    5) Growth
    6) Contribution
    It's just another way to model motivational behaviors but honestly I haven't seen a situation that has broke this system. Typically recognition follows under the significance category which is usually what people int he work place want but if that doesn't work it may be one of the other 5 factors.

  3. Ted, There is a link to the 10 quick way to motivate employees in the post that should help. Motivating teams and individuals is much the same. The big difference is the recognition of the collective output of all team members not individuals like a team leader for instance. The same approaches work. The worst thing to do is single out one person on the team.

    Ankit, thanks for the addition. That is a good follow on.

  4. I think the best way to look at this issue is to think of looking to eliminate de-motivation not to motivate.