3 Lessons on Motivating Employees by Not Working on Motivation

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Recognize This! – You can’t “leverage” motivation, but you can encourage it.

On this lovely Fall Friday, I’m pointing you to an excellent article by Scott and Ken Blanchard in Fast Company. There are several important points in the article, a few of which I highlight here.

The greatest motivator is freedom to do the job.

You hired smart, capable people. Why not let them do the job you hired them to do? Yes, they need (and want) guidance and direction, but they don’t need (or want) micromanagement. Give them control.

“You can’t control motivation. While traditional carrot-and-stick levers can influence behaviour in the short term, they do not create the intentions to apply discretionary effort and work collaboratively that are required in today’s more sophisticated work environments. …

“We are finding that giving people a chance to succeed in their job and setting them free to a certain degree is the key to motivation, as opposed to trying to direct and control people’s energy. It’s really about letting go and connecting people to their work–and each other–rather than channeling, organising, orchestrating, and focussing behaviour.”

Leadership must be on board for culture change.

Unless your CEO very visibly sets the examples – and lives that example out every day in his or her own actions – then culture change at any level will not happen.

“Without a shift in thinking at the top of an organisation, it is almost impossible to change an organisation’s culture. A study conducted years ago shed some light on the role of senior leaders in changing organisational culture and behaviour. The study concluded that the CEO’s disposition and personality had everything to do with the company’s service orientation and collaborative mindset.”

Employees need to know where they fit in the big picture.

Help people connect to each other and their work by encouraging everyone in the organisation to notice appreciate and formally recognise the good work others are doing when it is in line with strategic objectives and conducted in line with desired behaviours (the what as well as the how).

“Today we realise that control doesn’t work. Find a way to connect your people with the big picture. Create an environment free of fear and anxiety. Leaders don’t need a new lever–they need a new approach to bringing out the best in people. Give a little bit. You’ll be surprised at what can be accomplished when people are free of fear and find their motivation within, instead of being controlled by external carrots and sticks.”

Give them the insight they need into where they fit by letting everyone paint the picture.

About DerekIrvine

About DerekIrvine

Derek is a seasoned, internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience working across a diverse range of industries. During his career he has lived in many countries including Spain, France, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, UK and the USA.

Derek also heads up the marketing, communications, product development and rewards teams at Globoforce, building a product that is industry leading, with a rewards portfolio that is now the most global and largest rewards selection in the industry today.

In his role as a thought leader at Globoforce, Derek helps clients set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading consultative workshops and strategy setting meetings with such global organizations as Avnet, P&G, Dow Chemical, Intel, Intuit, KPMG and Reuters. An authority on the topics of employee engagement and recognition, he has been a guest speaker at worldwide industry and professional group conferences.


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