The organisational utopia consisting of an entirely inspired workforce completely engaged with management, their colleagues, their roles and their organisation and employees empowered to utilise their ideas, initiatives and energy to further enhance business performance need not be a mirage in the desert any longer. Businesses around the world are endeavouring to create the perfect work place. But where do you begin? This hack aims to broadly outline some key ways to inspire and motivate people within the work place as well as suggest ways to create, maintain and promote employee engagement throughout a business. The effects of getting these two key aspects of the management mix right can have a profound effect on the individual performance of employees and the performance of the business on the whole.
Engagement and motivation in the workplace has been a problem in business for centuries. Many people have tried to cure this problem. Slavery initially tried to conquer this problem. However slavery lacked a key ingredient - engagement, while slaves were motivated to do work (to protect themselves from beatings or death), they were never engaged in their work.
To be a successful business in the work place or a successful manager in a business two key ingredients need to be involved in your management mix: full engagement and motivation of your employees to encourage use of creativity, innovation and initiative.
But how do you effectively engage your staff? How do you increase their trust? What steps are you taking to humanise and personalise the language of business in your workplace? The secrets to management success may be simpler than you think.....
Managers must ensure that employees are and remain engaged for the duration of their employment. Employee engagement is the foundation stone and the spring board to increasing and enhancing employee motivation.
The motivation of employees is not an exact science. Businesses should be looking to include education for managers on motivational techniques, with specific emphasis placed on promoting, harnessing and creating environments for innovation and the use of initiative. Managers cannot create a motivated and creative workforce by simply loading up intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in the work environment without paying attention to the type of extrinsic motivators and the context in which they are presented. Managers need to take care that a balanced approach prevails as to cover the majority of employee motivational needs. Never ever assume that people are motivated by entirely similar or same sets of motivational factors. Assume makes and ass out of you and me.
The ability to engage and inspire staff is the key ingredient in being an effective leader and manager. Managers must lead from the front – communications should be clear and transparent to encourage flow of ideas, job design and role setting needs to be stimulating for staff, employee and organisational performance must be aligned, leaders should show pride in their work and pride in the company. It is important that employees are given opportunities for career development and growth in their roles and finally leaders must recognise that a strong relationship with their team and employees is the key to enhancing trust and unleashing creative power to the masses.
In summary there are 3 key aspects to solving this problem:
Communication - How do effective leaders motivate and inspire their employees? Through clear communication. How do the best organizations promote discipline, accountability and strategic alignment? With clear communication. The most important point itself is crystal clear: to be effecive in business and to inspire and engage with your staff you must communicate clearly and effectively. Preparation in establishing goals, effectively delivery of the message, recieving messages in return, and constant evaluation of effectiveness lead to an effective communicator and a more engaged and inspried staff. Never be afraid to alter the communication approach if you feel it is not effective.
Indentifying motivators and tailoring the approach - Despite the differences in a number of study results over the years, it is now commonly accepted that most people are motivated to some extent by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors in the workplace (Teresa M Amabile, 1996). It is this point that is important to note when designing techniques to motivate employees. The motivation tools must be formulated in such a way to appeal to both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated people. Both motivational factors therefore play an important role in unleashing imaginative and creative thought processes within people and encouraging them to use their own initiative. The tailoring of the approach is the key to making this work. managers and leaders need to first understand what drives their employees on both a businesswide, team wide and individual basis. By understand key drivers and motivators the right motivational techniques can be used to ensure there is a tailored approach that best fits each employees individual requirements.
Creating the right culture - without the right culture within the team employees will not take the risk to be innovative and creative in the business environment. The solution to this point is simple - a good culture within the business promotes both team work and innovation. Care needs to be taken when forming business values so that they are aligned with the type of (hopefully high achieving) employee you hope to attract. Communication within the teams and within the business needs to transperant and executed without confusion - messages always need to be clear. Trust between leaders and teams and bewteen colleagues needs to be established at the correct levels. Innovative ideas should be celebrated and rewarded in the appropriate fashion. Above all else the culture needs to be designed in a way where clear and achievable career paths are identified for top performers to promote excellence, creativity and use of initiative as these people are your future leaders.
So what are implications for management in not gaining employee engagement and motivation?
Many reports have shown employee engagement is a very big deal. There is clear and mounting evidence that high levels of employee engagement directly correlates to individual, group and corporate performance in areas such as retention, turnover, productivity, customer service and loyalty.
Employee engagement is the hot topic around business consultants and executives at present. It isn’t the theory that is creating the interest – it is the results for businesses.
“Standard Chartered Bank estimates that braches with highly engaged employees produce 20% higher returns than branches with lower engagement scores. British retailer Marks and Spencer claims that a 1% improvement in the engagement levels of its workforce produces a 2.9% increase in sales per square foot. American electronics retailer Best Buy reports that a 0.1 increase (on a 5.0 scale) in a stores engagement score is associated with a $100,000 increase in the stores profitability for the year” (McShane et al., 2010)
As can be seen from above the implication in getting it right lead to increases in productivity and other key business KPI's. But what about the second part of the puzzle - motivating employees to inspire use of imagination and creativity?
The practical impact stretches well beyond the key KPI's of the business. Motivation and license for creativity and use of initiative breeds feelings that are second to none in the workplace. Employees feel valued first of all and take ownership in the day to day activities that they complete along with the business as a whole. This ownership of tasks and business performance leads almost certainly to innovation and creativity in the workplace. Systems and processes can become streamlined and improved, employees feel empowered and engaged levels never seen before and management issues decrease leaving more time for leaders to do what they do best - strategise and lead the business by example. This is busting bureacracy at its finest.
- Ensure that business values align with those of your employees
- Develop a communication strategy that is transparent and of value to employees – make them feel as if they are all a crucial part of the team.
- Re-engage with your staff – get to know what makes them tick
- Start to identify the key intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of your employees, incorporate these into your motivational techniques and tailor your approach to cover more employees.