Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What Motivates Employees?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
What motivates you to go to work every morning?

What drives you to do good work every day? What motivates you to want to work for your employer every day? What are the things that your manager and your executives do that encourage you to work hard for them every day?

What motivates your staff? Do you even know? Have they ever shared with you what their motivators are? Have you ever asked them?

Not everyone is motivated in the same way, so you need to be prepared to use different tools and approaches; you need to personalize or customize the experience to the individual.

Hmmm. That sounds familiar. We talk a lot about that when we describe customer experience design.

Let's use that same mantra ("personalize the experience") to describe some approaches to use when we need to design the employee experience. In this case, I'm writing about designing an employee experience that moves your employees to deliver a great customer experience! How can we motivate employees to drive change within the organization that allows them to deliver the experience your customers desire?

Consider the following ideas when you want to move your employees.

The most important tool to motivate employees to act on customer feedback and insights is communication - clear, ongoing communication that supports the actions and the outcomes. You can't act on what you don't know or don't understand. Share the feedback. Tell your teams what's been uncovered in the data. Help them understand current state and future state. And help them understand the why.

Use storytelling. I've written about it before, but it's a Trojan horse for learning. You can tell stories, and people will listen; they won't even know that they're (supposed to be) learning! Stories allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages people, inspires them, and helps them understand a desired or intended outcome as a result of a series of steps or actions taken. Tell the stories in your data.

Give employees ownership; if you provide leadership opportunities and hold employees accountable, they'll want to engage - to act - because they feel like they own it. There's a lot of pride in ownership, and when they understand what that means, it's a great feeling.

Similarly, if we involve them in the change process rather than forcing actions and change on them, we make some quick allies who want to be a part of the implementation and the improvements. Educate and empower them - and then set them free to act.

Employees need to be bought into the cause and why the actions they take matter to them and for the intended audience. Why should I act on these findings? What's in it for me? What's in it for the customer? How does my action or inaction impact the customer?

Listen to employees. When you listen to them and not only take their feedback into consideration but also use it, they feel valued. That motivates them.

Training, coaching, and development reinforced by rewards for being accountable and for acting on opportunities identified in the data can also drive employees to do good work. Clearly, growth opportunities motivate many employees, and rewards are always appreciated.

Collaboration gets people to work together toward a common cause; many are motivated by what motivates others. Before collaborating, though, they need to clearly understand the cause, and they need to clearly understand expectations and outcomes. Collaboration often motivates people who aren't motivated on their own. And since we want everyone marching to the same beat, collaboration makes for a more cohesive organization and outcome.

Leadership is motivating. Employees are moved by leaders they like to work for and who inspire them to do what they might not otherwise do. These leaders must be trustworthy, transparent, open, and candid; they must communicate, mentor, coach, and be a positive influence.

Don't discount the fact the employees are motivated when they are doing interesting work or fun projects, especially those that are aligned with their own values, purpose, and passions. Make sure they understand where and how the customer fits into all of that.

Knowing that their work matters and that it has a positive impact on the business, on customers, and on society is a motivator. Let employees know how what they do impacts all of their constituencies. Make sure there's alignment. I suppose this is a good time to reiterate that you should hire for attitude and train for skill.

Oftentimes, when a project or an assignment challenges employees and provides real growth opportunities, it is highly motivational. Mind you, though, this definitely does not work for everyone. Some will be discouraged; others will be encouraged.

And last but not least, when we celebrate successes and contributions, those being celebrated and often their co-workers, as well, are encouraged to do more.

Notice that I didn't mention any financial motivators. That's intentional. As with the customer experience, in the absence of value, price (pay) is important; when value is present and apparent, price (pay) is less of a driver.

If people are good only because they fear punishment and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed
. -Albert Einstein


4 comments:

  1. This bridge between employee motivation and user experience is spot on, Annette! Great article and interesting quote by Einstein. This is very useful advice, particularly for startups and companies looking to build a solid employee base and establish healthy management practices.

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  2. The alternative Annette is to micromanage people, pay them as little as you can get away with and always always keep the companies "secrets" to yourself.

    And we are surprised so many people are disengaged...

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    1. Right?! Good point. (BTW, that never happens!)

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