How do you get a motivated workforce?

22 Feb 2017

How do you get a motivated workforce ?
Lesson number one : You cannot motivate people !
Class dismissed !

Each and everyone of your people makes a rational decision about what they do. Are they motivated enough to do what is asked of them or not ?
Managers cannot motivate their people to do something and furthermore it is not their job to motivate them either. It is their job to ensure the working environment enables individuals to perform tasks willingly and to the best of their ability.

Semantics you might say ? No a fundamental mind set shift ! 

Stop trying to motivate and focus on enabling self-motivated individuals and teams. Understand what motivates your people one by one and not just once, but continually as internal motivational agenda items change with time and circumstances. 
The role of the people manager is becoming more aligned to that of a psychologist and so a shift in mind set, development and performance is required in our managers now more than ever. This will continue as we begin to employ generation Z. This generation like the generations before are different.

Money is not the prime motivator !
We take great pride and pleasure in making this bold and provocative statement in our Management Academy programme as it always gets a response and then a shift in thinking which often results in a climatic shift in culture and practise when managers return to their business. Yes money is a motivational factor, of course the infamous hierarchy of needs explains this so well. But once we have comfort (safety, security and nourishment) money has less motivational longevity. 

Itís more about what the money represents than the money itself or what each individual does with the money than the money itself. If someone wants more money than his or her colleagues then it is more about status and a degree of worth to the business than the actual money. Take premiership football players. They have trouble spending the money they get paid so it is not about the amount of zeros behind the figure, but more about the perceived value to others.
If one employee is saving to get on the property ladder, it's not the money, but the drive to get enough of a deposit together to take that next important step in their life.
Whilst all of this might seem obvious it remains invisible to so many managers and business leaders.

It is often the case that when you introduce a monetary incentive performance drops rather than improves. If it does improve, the bar has been set at a higher level so if you want a repeat performance you have to keep adding more monetary incentives. 

We ran an executive academy earlier this year for a senior team and in the evening we planned a number of challenges and team development tasks. One particular task was a time sensitive exercise where the time target was set and intensified after every failed attempt. The observing CEO of this organisation jumped in (clearly frustrated) and offered a £50 incentive for each of the team if they achieved the next time target. So intrigued by this interruption and the pending outcome I reset the stopwatch and gave the signal. The performance was rushed, the quality was poor, safety was compromised and they achieved the worse time of the evening. Lessons learned that night by all.
If you want a simple, yet powerful tool to enable a motivated workforce consider motivation as an individualís readiness (willingness) to do something.
Their readiness comes down to the presence of two essential factors

1.    The Importance they personally place on doing it
2.    The Confidence they have in doing it to the level of expectation (self or others)

So if someone is not ready (willing) to do something which of these two factors is not in line ?

Do they not see the importance in this task and/or do they lack the confidence to achieve the task with maximum certainty ?

When you identify this position you have an informed choice and plan of action to take.   

Your 5 to Thrive tips

1.    Stop trying to motivate your people. Check your environment is engaging, encouraging, stretching, inspiring and enabling  
2.    Understand the internal motivation agenda items of each of your people and pay attention to doing this often
3.    Recognise and value contribution not just short term performances
4.    Incentivise the best improver not just the overall achiever
5.    Identify the reason why people do not want to do something. Importance and/or confidence. Then work on the resolution.