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Highly motivated and engaged employees contribute significantly to corporate success. It is not an easy task for an organization to keep their employees always motivated and focused around a common purpose, especially their remote workforce. You need to create an environment where the employees’ motivation to do their best job comes from within them, DAILY. Easier said than done! Here some factors that make employee motivation a habit.
Motivation is of two types – Intrinsic and Extrinsic.
- Intrinsic motivation is when you engage in a specific activity due to a genuine interest in the activity. When you ask such people why they do it, they would reply “because I like it”, “because it is fun”. It is prompted by their internal desires to learn, explore, and actualize their potential. Most of our hobbies, artistic pursuits, and passion projects are driven by internal motivations. Intrinsic motivation satisfies you emotionally. Apart from driving our creative pursuits, this type of motivation also drives our social and work-related behaviors.
- Extrinsic motivation is when you engage in an activity because of the external benefits you obtain by accomplishing it like money, credits, etc. Extrinsic motivation is behaviors prompted by a promise of some external reward such as praise, financial gains, or recognition. Traditionally, extrinsic motivation is placed at the core of most employee engagement strategies such as performance bonuses, ‘employee of the month’ programs, cross-department competitions, and so on. Extrinsic motivation creates a conditional atmosphere where employees are made to perform for the benefits they get, and the corporate culture becomes unhealthy. It leads to a point where people stop doing things for the sake of pleasure and only pursue reward-driven actions.
Following is the Job Characteristics Theory (JCT) developed by Hackman and Oldham that depicts what/how internal/external factors affect a job’s output.
Let us see which factors drive an intrinsically motivated environment that is genuinely helpful to the individual as well as the organization.
1. Fitment of work/skill
The core of intrinsic motivation starts from the day you join work or even before that. Skill mismatch or wrong fitment in the job could be a great drain on an employee’s morale. So, extreme care must be taken during the recruitment phase itself so that wastages such as skill, time, money, effort, etc. can be avoided. Just filling up a job in haste for the sake of doing does not solve any purpose and will have a nose-dive effect on the employee’s career and the organization’s brand.
2. Work identity and significance
The importance of your job and the degree to which an employee can see how their daily actions contribute to the final outcomes mean a lot. The very feeling that “I am doing an impactful job” and “My work yields result in a meaningful way” can be a great employee motivational factor.
Am I doing a good job? I know I do a good job but is anybody noticing it!? As social animals, we humans cannot survive without validation. More so in a job. When an employee is adding value, it becomes imperative for a manager to TELL THEM THAT. I would even say that the manager owes this to their reportees. Honest, meaningful, and constructive feedback is great for intrinsic motivation. It is an explicit action of showing “Hey, I care for you”.
Do not save your feedback for year-end or mid-year appraisals. Feedback should be continuous so that there are no surprises or anguishes at a crucial juncture of the job.
An American analytics and advisory company emphasizes that only 47% of employees received some feedback from their manager and just 26% agree that the provided feedback was helpful for them. This points to a problematic trend. Regular feedback is key to amplifying both types of motivation — intrinsic and extrinsic.
4. Micromanagement tendencies
Micromanagement is passé. Managers should be aware if they are unknowingly practicing it! It demotivates employees and makes them lose their self-confidence. A mind works freely when it is not policed. As much as 73% of employees admit that micromanagement undermines their ability to do their job well, makes them miserable, and ultimately — disengaged. To foster intrinsically driven behavior, a manager must let people find their own way under a nurtured guidance and not a dictatorship.
Mundane and repetitive tasks kill a person’s creativity, progression, and zeal to contribute. Boredom is a major productivity killer. When anyone feels that they are constantly engaged in menial, repetitive work, they are unlikely to find internal motivators for doing it better. So, it is a manager’s job to juggle the team’s responsibilities often.
6. Open door policy
Get transparent with your employees. Meet them more often through town halls or even virtual meetings. Tell them how the company has performed recently, how the company is seen in the market, how your market size has grown, etc. These leadership interactions are significant drivers of intrinsic motivation. When people clearly understand how their actions contribute to the big picture, they are far more inclined to do their best work without expecting any tangible rewards in return.
Unilever, for example, publicly reports on its progress to offsetting its carbon footprint. HubSpot has a culture of ‘radical transparency’. Such an open-door policy helps the leadership stay accountable for their decisions and defend them in front of employees who don’t understand and/or agree with them.
To conclude, you can see, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play their part in terms of effectiveness. But extrinsic factors’ effectiveness wears off over time if leveraged too often. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation can help maintain higher levels of satisfaction among your workforce for longer. Yet, getting it right requires implementing a wider range of cultural and organizational shifts. A successful company or leadership should work towards this for sustainable employability.