Employee motivation is a mystery for many managers. But, it doesn’t have to be. Instead, understanding how motivation impacts employee performance, and understanding how to use motivation to improve performance can be reduced to five master keys. Organizations desiring to improve employee motivation need a system in place that consistently rewards employee achievements. I’m always surprised how few organizations have such a system.
However, not all employees respond to the same motivations. Each person has his or her own likes and dislikes, passions, interests and desires. The role of the successful manager is to learn how to identify what motivates each employee, and learn how to leverage those motives to simultaneously fulfill the goals of the organization, as well as the goals of each employee.
The five key employee motivation factors include: satisfaction, appreciation, recognition, inspiration and compensation.
1. Employee Motivation By Building Satisfaction
In their book “The Service Profit Chain,” James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger make a compelling case that regardless your business, the only way to generate sustained profits is to build a work environment that attracts, focuses, and keeps talented employees. In other words, they have to be motivated to show up, get committed and perform at a level of excellence.
Employee motivation as it relates to employees satisfaction is vitally important. And, it goes way beyond just a “happier workforce.” Why?
Because there is an undeniable link between satisfied, motivated employees, and satisfied customers. In other words, focus on creating satisfied employees, focus on employee motivation, and those motivated, satisfied employees will take care of your customers.
2. Employee Motivation Through Genuine Appreciation
At times, managers unknowingly sabotage employee motivation by failing to recognize the positive behaviors and achievements of their employees. As a result, employees don’t know whether or not they are doing a good job.
I recently had an employee of an organization tell me, “The only time we ever hear anything from management is when we do something wrong!”
Fortunately, savvy managers can improve employee motivation by rewarding employees with personal attention. This can include a pat on the back, a hand-written note, or a quick comment in the hall.
When showing appreciation, be specific. Instead of just saying, “We really are grateful for the good job you do around here,” the approach might be, “I really appreciate how you handled the Franklin Industries account last week when we had to get their rush order out late Friday afternoon. Your effort really made a difference.”
By being specific, the employer comes across as much more sincere, and the employee realizes their actions are truly being watched. And, a highly level of employee motivation is the natural result.
3. Employee Motivation Through Recognition
Many people will do for recognition what they will not do for money. And, this is the manager’s secret weapon for employee motivation. Some people are motivated by the opportunity to get their name on the wall, receive a trophy at an annual banquet, or see their name in the company newsletter. It gives them an “emotional payoff” for their actions.
Look for ways to increase employee motivation by recognizing excellence in the workplace. Ring a bell every time an individual or team hits the production target. Put up posters with the photographs of team members who have had the most days without accidents. Give out awards for attendance records. Just do something. It is so inexpensive, yet highly effective in your efforts of employee motivation.
4. Employee Motivation Through Inspiration
Inspiration comes from leadership. This form of employee motivation includes the company’s mission, purpose and goals. People want to be part of an organization that is going somewhere, that stands for something, and that provides a meaningful service to the marketplace.
If you want to lead an inspired, mission-guided organization, follow these steps and watch employee motivation improve dramatically.
Have a clear mission – in other words, know where you are going.
Be excited and passionate about your mission. After all, if you don’t get excited, they won’t either.
Be able to communicate the mission, it’s value to the marketplace. In other words, why it’s worthwhile.
Make sure everyone in the organization understands and can communicate the mission.
Be sure employees understand how they fit into the process of fulfilling the organization’s mission.
Make the connection between the mission and the individual values and goals of your employees.
Keep your mission in front of everyone in the organization.
5. Employee Motivation Through Compensation
Some employees are motivated by money. In fact, most are motivated by money; at least for their basic needs. Employee motivation through compensation can come in the form of raises, performance bonuses, commissions, profit sharing, or any number of “extra benefits” like, automobiles, vacations, or other tangible items purchased and used as rewards.
I noticed an interesting program in a hotel where I recently stayed. They have a sophisticated system for rewarding employees based on customer feedback. Throughout the hotel, they have placed customer feedback forms and boxes for depositing the forms. When customers comment on the performance of a hotel employee, the employee accumulates points that can be used to purchase rewards like trips, gifts, and other incentives.
Taking Action On Employee Motivation
Whatever the chosen method, it is important to have a system in place that builds employee motivation. Not every person is motivated by the same factor, or combination of factors. Offering all five – satisfaction, appreciation, recognition, inspiration and compensation insures that the organization has something to contribute to the motivation of each employee.