What Motivates you and Your Team at Work?

What motivates you and your team?

Are you adventurous and love taking on new challenges?

Or do you thrive on building relationships and developing a team?

What about learning; do you enjoy developing your own personal skills and moving up the career ladder?

What about each of your employees – how are they motivated?

Motivation is a big subject, and it’s very specific to each individual.

Whereas one person may love security in a job, another might hate the boredom of it.

But what is motivation? The Oxford dictionary defines it as, “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.“

In the work setting, being motivated is the act of working in the required way, and having a genuine intrinsic reason to do it. A motivated employee works diligently to achieve their goals and objectives. They do this, because they are energised and engaged in what they do and, want to do it.

It is crucial to acknowledge and value the various motivations that drive each team member. Employees who are genuinely inspired are more inclined to pursue and achieve their goals with significant enthusiasm, deriving immense personal gratification from their career successes.

Such dedication not only improves their individual performance but also contributes substantially to the progress and overall achievements of the organization.

By embracing this method, we ensure that employees are not only committed but also have their aspirations in sync with the organization’s objectives, fostering a synergistic relationship that benefits the entire group.

Motivation comes from meeting each employee’s intrinsic needs, to help them feel inspired and happy to take part and work hard.

What Motivates You and Your Team?

There are a range of motivational factors that, when they come together, can have an impact on whether someone is self directed and wants to do something, or indeed they are totally disengaged and reluctant to do so. These range from intrinsic to extrinsic factors, like the following:

Extrinsic Motivation

These motivational factors consist of things that are external to us likembeing promoted, receiving a bonus, being given a pay rise, being given a reward, a company car and additional benefits like more holiday allowance, flexible working, and even healthcare benefits. 

These factors are normally built around how you reward and recognise your employees in plain sight and are generally tangible.

We all respond to elements of extrinsic motivation, but there’s a caveat. Being motivated to do work through the carrot and the stick approach that extrinsic motivation provides, has quite a low correlation to what really motivates you at work.

Intrinsic Motivation

In tandem with the above, this means that we are largely motivated intrinsically. That is, we have to see a link between what we are doing, to some value inside us that we agree with. 

When this synergy happens, we tend to motivate ourselves. This is the same at work. When it’s not there, we tend to be idle and lack-lustre.

Take a new leader that knows that if they obtain a degree in business, they can move up the career ladder pretty quickly. If they value learning and progression, being enrolled on a business course will probably motivate them to do what they need to do.

Intrinsic Motivation – 3 Times The Effect

In a 2012 study from Cho and Perry, they identified that intrinsic motives have three times more impact on employee engagement over extrinsic equivalents. 

In other words, people that link their job to something deep within them, and are motivated because they want to personally do it, are 3 times more likely to be motivated than being offered a reward or bonus (extrinsic motivator).

Research from the International Conference on Management and Economics, identified that job satisfaction is by far the biggest motivator for any employee.

Mckinsey reveals that when employees are intrinsically motivated, they show an average of 46% higher levels of job satisfaction, and a third greater commitment to their jobs, than those that did not show any intrinsic motivation.

It makes sense then, to focus on identifying what motivates you and your team at work, by looking inside, beyond the exterior, so to speak.

3 Things to Improve Intrinsic Motivation

As a manager, getting into each employee’s heads is a hard thing to do. To really understand what motivates them, there are some typical steps to take to get the ball rolling.

1st Intrinsic Motivator – Provide Autonomy 

No-one wants to be micromanaged, especially if they are competent in their role. In the International Research Journal of Business Studies (2011), they quantified with statistical significance that autonomy has a direct link to job satisfaction and job performance, to name a few.

We’ve written an article on how to provide the 4 levels of autonomy, based on Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.

The key here is to start to create the ‘spark’ inside your employees, by giving them positive reasons to do what you want them to do.

Things like:

  • Flexible working – the ability to choose your own hours;
  • The ability to choose more of the work you like;
  • Give them a platform to work on improvement ideas;
  • Allow them to work together and throw away the micromanaging / distrust culture.

These may be extrinsic factors, but they can quickly help build a bridge between being asked to do something, and wanting to do it because it appeals to some inner value(s).

For instance, employees that want to spend more time with their families, could be motivated by choosing their own hours, set around some core working time.

Someone that wants to be more independent, would feel more motivated if they could have a say in how they work.

2nd Intrinsic Motivator – Provide Recognition

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the two most prominent psychological needs are to belong and to be recognised and appreciated.

This means that developing strong team relationships is one factor that needs to be addressed.

Incidentally, the best place to start here, is by increasing communication across the team and building team relationships.

On top of this, another factor is to encourage recognition.

As a manager, providing regular acknowledgement for work done well, is essential. We’ve written an article on how to actively seek and find positive experiences to recognise great efforts.

It’s equally important to encourage peer-to-peer recognition. A research paper from Harvard Business School, titled, “Seeking to Belong: How the Words of Internal and External Beneficiaries Influence Performance,” showed that a group that received peer-to-peer recognition, were 7% more productive.

Admittedly, this change isn’t huge, but recognition doesn’t cost much and is a missed opportunity if you are not actively promoting this.

So, encourage team members to discuss and provide recognition for each other at team meetings. Perhaps you could add recognition to the weekly team agenda, and encourage others to mention their colleagues for assisting and going beyond to help their teammates.

3rd Intrinsic Motivator – Develop Through Coaching

Another element of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the need to grow and develop. This is called self-actualisation.

It’s another intrinsic motivator. So, supporting your team members to learn new skills and improve their capability, lends itself to increased motivation in the workplace.

The same goes for you.

As a leader, learn skills that support your own development in your career and self.

For your team, coaching is vital to this and the ability for you to coach them helps employees learn through reflection.

Coaching allows employees to feel safe in the knowledge that they are ‘allowed’ to try things to improve the situation, without being blamed for getting things wrong.

There are two components to coaching:

What Motivates You – Conclusion

Realise that to get true motivation, you must look intrinsically. If you can link a person’s innate values and character to the job you ask of them, then they will naturally motivate themselves to achieve this behaviour.

If you don’t do this, and merely opt for providing tangible extrinsic rewards, you’re only tackling statistically less than 2% motivational factors.

Instead, focus on intrinsic motivators, providing autonomy, recognition (both from you and your team’s peers) and coaching to develop their skills.

Take the What Motivates you test from Leadership IQ.com, and identify your personal motivational character. Whilst you’re there, get each team member to do the same, so you can start to see how they tick.

When you can get inside their minds and uncover their values and motivations, you can start to subtly change their job roles to suit their natural biases.