Questioning employee motivation brings to mind a line out of the movie Remember the Titans, “attitude is a reflection of leadership,” Ouch!
That being said, there can also be those subversives that act to undermine management, either at the water cooler, during lunch or after hours. They can spread their poison of negativity to keep production suppressed and management challenged. Sometimes, you have to show them the door, pink slip in hand.
Complacency is also a killer of motivation and sometimes you need to upset the applecart to wake everyone up and get their attention refocused on achievement.
I once went five rounds with a plant manager over his mandating a seven day workweek. Morale was at its lowest and so was production. In his mind, overtime was a privilege and a reward until I expressed that it wasn’t if they didn’t want or need it. All that extra money was great in his opinion, but the employees wanted time off to spend the money and time with their families. You can’t shove perceived rewards down employee’s throats and expect them to stomach it. One employee told me, “ there’s no point in trying harder. They’ll kill a good man around here.”
During MBA studies, we were introduced to Maslow’s hierarchy and research done by Hertzberg on employee motivation. Out of ten desirable qualities of a job, money came in number five. Great insights if you have the inclination to learn from industrial psychologist. Money quickly becomes an entitlement.
Following these researchers, there are now surveys designed to determine what motivates your particular group of employees. Just be prepared, as this can be just as surprising and ego damaging as a 360 feedback session. Employee Engagement surveys can make an incredible difference. In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1. In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1(Gallup). With engaged organizations producing 3.9 times the Earnings per Share as those without engagement in the same industry, the ROI could prove worth the investment.
Surveys have a way of opening up people, even to themselves, when they won’t open up to administrators and managers. If you want to know how to motivate your employees, best place to start is by asking them. What are their goals and aspirations and how do you help them get there? Check out Employee Engagement on the web.