What Motivates People

By Ananya Mukherjee


Improving employee motivation level in the workplace is a challenge managers face at all times. Interestingly, employee engagement and job satisfaction surveys often underline that the root of the concern lies not with disengaged employees, but more with the management itself. Lack of inspiration and good leadership play fundamental roles in affecting workplace morale. Needless to say, the less motivated and engaged the talent is, the shorter will be his/her tenure in the organisation. A disengaged employee will seek the first opportunity to jump ship. It is therefore pointless to recruit and develop high-potential talent without implementing definite motivational strategies that can protect the organisation’s investment and retain the talent in the long run. Industry gurus observe that motivation in the workplace begins with setting clear targets and expectations, and measuring performance.

Employees have to know what the organisation’s “excellent performance” benchmark is, before they perform in the same strain. Suppositions do not help. HR must spell out specific targets, goals and expectations right at the onset of an employer-employee commitment.

Beyond that, once a job is done, never refrain from giving a regular, direct and candid feedback to your staff. Feedback, both positive and performance improving, is vital in motivating people to continually move towards using their full potential. However, in order to be effective, feedback ought to be timely, specific and presented in such a way that it guides the talent through a process of modification for optimum results.

Hence, remember the adage “people quit their bosses, not their jobs” when you are planning your next engagement strategy. Creating a motivating climate will not only improve staff morale and productivity, it will help retain workers. “Managers should appreciate workers for their individual strengths and treat them as they would like to be treated themselves,” Dr William J Rothwell, Professor of Workplace Learning and Performance on the University Park Campus of Pennsylvania State University, suggests.

Staff lose morale when....

  • You take workers for granted
  •  You treat employees badly
  • You forget to listen
  • You do not punish slackers
  • You do not challenge workers sufficiently
  • You do not coach workers
  • You do not engage and involve staff in decision-making
  • You do not reward or recognise high performers
  • You forget to say “thank you”
  • You leave work group conflicts unresolved

Compiled by: Dr William J Rothwell


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