Motivation and Your Employees

In their most recent HBR Blog, Carolyn Dewar and Scott Keller discuss the four motivation mistakes that most leaders make.

  • Leaders think employees care as much about the company as they do
  • Everyone is not motivated by money
  • Your people want you to listen more
  • Focus on the positives not just the negatives

We see these types of mistakes in many of the small to medium sized companies we work with. What most businesses seem to forget is to find out up front what motivates the individuals they are hiring. Ideally you want to know this information so you can ensure the employees motivation and values are in alignment with the job they are going to do as well as the company values.

If the new employee values are in alignment with the company values then the employee WILL care as much about the company as the leaders do. How will you know if the employee’s values are in alignment with your company values? You’ll most likely want to have your leadership get together and decide what values your company wants to stand for. Then you can use this criteria as part of your strategic selection process.

Now you are wondering is it as simple as asking them what motivates them? Some people already know they are motivated by money. Most likely these are sales people and lets face it,  you want sales people motivated by money. The more they sell the more your company makes and ultimately the more they make.  But for those that are NOT motivated by money the best way to figure out what does motivate them is by using a motivators/values assessment. Once you know what motivates your employees then you’ll know how to reward them which in turn leads to retention.

Employees want leaders to have empathy and to listen to them as well as offer help without taking  responsibility for their job. Sometimes all your employees want is just to know you have heard what they are saying.

Finally, your employees don’t want to be beat over the head with all the negative things that may be happening in the business. Sure there is going to be bad stuff, but please try to focus on the positives. Maybe a team or division did something out of the ordinary for a customer or another employee came up with an idea that the company decided to implement. These are the types of things employees want to hear about. There is always room for improvement.  If you only focus on the need for improvement you miss all the good things that make your company the reason people work there in the first place.