This is a great topic. Many leaders get wrapped up around money, which is never, ever, a long-term motivator.
Motivation takes leadership, thoughtfulness, and a demonstrated compassion for employees – we must sincerely care as much about their well-being as we do our own. Our efforts, then, must center around Communications, Involvement, & Recognition.
There are many misguided leaders among us who believe that all motivation is about dollars — that if you have sufficient, budgeted dollars, you can motivate effectively; if you’re cash-poor, then suddenly you are de-motivating…and that it’s not your fault.
Absolute malarkey. BS. Balderdash. Pure unadulterated bunk.
Let’s not get wrapped up in our shorts on definitions, but consider: Incentives are payments of some sort to entice certain behaviors and performance. Motivation is the desire to achieve certain behaviors and performance. The difference may seem subtle; in reality, it’s a chasm like the Grand Canyon.
So, without publishing a treatise on leadership & motivation, here’s 3 things within your grasp today that can drive effective motivation:
1. Communications. Make sure performance and objectives expectations are realistic and equally aligned. Be honest and open with data and information; allow your staff to determine what “enough” information is, before you arbitrarily decide. Provide a good, forthright look at the “big picture.” Eliminate unnecessary blaming.
2. Involvement. Here, you’ll determine what your staffs’ key motivators really are. Provide opportunities for real, substantial input. Force decision-making down to more appropriate levels. Increase ownership and buy-in through inclusion in both front-end planning and progress efforts. Eliminate unnecessary hierarchy.
3. Recognition. I’m not talking here about “employee of the month/quarter/millennium.” I am speaking about making sure your management attention is appropriate for someone’s performance level — don’t micromanage a key performer just to satisfy your control-freak tendencies. Provide developmental/learning opportunities within the work and project itself — allow employees to grow through “doing.”
Motivation isn’t about the money. It’s about effective leaders stepping up to lead, and taking personal accountability for that leadership. Money can certainly provide an incentive for behavior changes and specific performance, but you can’t buy the real motivation that provides impetus for employee acceptance of personal accountability — the responsibility to do “whatever is necessary.”
That comes from skilled leadership, not the ATM.
But that’s just me…