In our current business world where there is great focus on always delivering results, it is important to continuously keep employees energized and motivated! How do we do that in a world where, according to a Gallup poll a few years back, 70 percent of people in the workplace are disengaged?

To better understand how to motivate and engage people, we need to better understand what motivates them.

Let’s talk about extrinsic motivation

The performance management systems in many organizations are geared towards extrinsic motivation, in other words: the carrot and the stick. If you meet objective “x”, we will reward you with “y”. The assumption is that the reward is what will motivate you to reach the objective.

Although it is a popular system, it is also a flawed one. How do these different individual objectives align together in the context of a larger group? In environments where they rate people using a bell curve, how fair is the system really?

Having seen the system at work as a coach as well as an employee, I often see how this can condition people to do the wrong thing for the business in order to meet their personal objective and get the promised reward.

For example, in organizations that measure employee performance using hard metrics, what is the impact of using different metric sets across departments? Are there competing commitments? It is very possible that if one department meets their metrics then another one may not meet theirs.

Let’s talk about intrinsic motivation

The last few years, more and more, we are learning that what truly motivates people is intrinsic motivation. This is where the desire to attain a certain goal, the road to attain it, and finally reaching that goal is motivation in itself.

Imagine for a moment a team working to deliver software on a tight schedule. You can use the extrinsic motivation of a bonus to motivate them to deliver, but if their intrinsic motivation is delivering a quality product, their motivation will still suffer.

So, the important questions here are: “How can you discover more about what makes your people tick? What can make their work more meaningful?”

I worked with a small team once that worked in Montréal with a much larger remote team in Europe. The team wanted to use Agile practices, but did not feel they could make it work in their current reality. To make it meaningful to them, we took a look at their current situation and identified where they wanted to be as a team six months later.

We created a little story together around that to help them visualize what they wanted to achieve together and guide their actions on their journey. The story became a rallying point for the team and energized them to overcome challenges in order to meet their goal.

What I learned from that experience is that change can be compelling when you discover what people truly want.

Conclusion

I believe that energizing people and helping teams discover their purpose can make the work they do together more meaningful.

In the Management 3.0 course, we dig deeper into how to energize teams and we provide participants with tools to help them better understand what drives and motivates the people around them. What I enjoy the most about the “Moving Motivators” exercise we do in this part of the course is seeing the shift in perspectives from participants around the types of conversations that could be possible for them with their employees.

As a Management 3.0 facilitator, I create a safe container where participants can explore and reflect on their role as managers in the organization they work for. I also create a safe place where participants can reflect on their personal leadership styles and experience a shift in their perspectives around leadership.

I not only teach the various Management 3.0 tools during the course, I also find myself using many of them when I am working with my own clients. The more I use these tools, the more I realize that using them frames discussions in a useful and productive way between management and employees. Although the conversations these tools create are much more constructive and meaningful, it is important to remember that they must remain ongoing and are never truly over.

Come join us in one of our upcoming Management 3.0 courses in Montréal, Ottawa, or Québec City.
This article was originally published on agileknowhow.com.

About the author

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Steffan Surdek

I am a leadership development coach, corporate trainer, professional speaker and author. I believe in contributing to a greater cause, making a difference and adding value. Feel free to reach out, I would love to hear about the leadership challenges in your organization!

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