Motivation - Popping a pill for getting the job done

Motivation at work is centered on the following:

Creating a motivating environment
·         Supporting performance.
·         Creating the right conditions.
·         Creating a high-performance culture.
·         Recruiting the right people.
·         Measuring motivation.

Motivation is the will to do something that comes from within, which is itself is a challenge for the leadership & the management for what remains unknown is the trigger to motivation for individuals, groups and teams. Motivation is less of enthusiasm and more about ‘directing’ people’s efforts. Setting goals for individuals and extending support in the accomplishment is essential for the organisational success.

Motivated individuals and working groups also require opportunity & ability to boost their performance. Opportunity covers the aspects of tools and resources and the space to do the job well without restrictions.
A few questions for the manager to assess the opportunity and the ability interface for their working groups and teams to adjudge motivation in driving performance are as follows:

 Do my team members know what their goals are?
What aspects of the work and environment de-motivate them?
Which tools are constraining the output?
 Does the working group or the team have the basic ability to do their jobs?
How can the abilities be improved upon?

Let’s try and understand the principles of motivation.  It is important to remember that everybody is an individual and to motivate him, you need to know him well and understand their personal motivators and de-motivators. Frederick Herzberg divided the sources of motivation into ‘motivators’ and ‘hygiene factors’. The Hygiene factors do not motivate but if they are not dealt with, they can turn people off. Salary is very often a hygiene factor, if people are paid fairly, they are satisfied, but paying above the norm does not satisfy people.

The hygiene factors are as following:

Company Policy
Working conditions
Personal relationships.

The Herzberg Motivators are as following:

The work in itself

The Douglas McGregor’s theory of X and the theory of Y created two extremes of management approaches. Theory X is based on the structuring of work precisely and at a detailed level, directing and controlling what people do and motivating them through rewards and punishments. This theory believes that people are lazy, lacks ambition, dislike responsibility and need to be told what is to be done. People are unconcerned about organisational goals and need to be driven to performance.

The theory Y suggests appealing to people’s higher level needs through communicating and negotiating goals and outcomes. This theory believes that people are not naturally lazy and work is a source of satisfaction. Most people learn to accept responsibility and they will work towards objectives to which they are committed.

Directing Motivation is an outcome of the following:

a)   Alignment of goals – to achieve the organisational goals, translate them into goals that directly  relate to each individual’s job.
b)     Give credit – most people appreciate external recognition of their achievements, so publicize their success and good work.
c)      Offer feedback – keep talking & discussing with your staff as they require continuous and regular feedback on progress in order to continue to perform well.
d)     Engage people – involving people in setting targets improves motivation, creates commitment and improves the chances of success.
e)   Set targets – people perform better when they have clear targets to achieve. Try and quantify what is to be achieved and by when.
  1. Building Motivation processes
·         Designing a job role.

·         Creating a balance.

In motivating people to perform well, one should aim to balance high performance with constructive behaviour as well as balance short-term success with achieving long term goals. It is important to give equal weight to the needs of individuals and organisational goals. Most measurement of performance does not give a view of the future. In most of the cases, people resort to gaming the system, a behaviour associated with achieving the target numbers by any means without regard for delivering real performance. This requires balancing performance indicator and behaviour.

Motivation has short term and long term elements. In the short term, commitment, direction and enthusiasm will motivate people but in the long term, people need to see that they are being led and that changes are being made to help them do their work. Short term success has to translate into long term success by changing the way the work is done.

A few questions to understand the manager’s take and perspective to motivating people.

Are you people focussed or task focused?

Do you devote most of your efforts & time in achieving the goals that has been set for organisation?

Do you focus on ensuring that people content in their jobs?

Balancing work and individual needs requires one to achieve the organisational goal and targets individual needs. People who work for organisations have their own needs which cannot be ignored. The key to motivational management is to align the people’s need closely with that of the organisation.

·         Conducting appraisals.

·         Setting objectives.

Defining SUSTAINABLE objectives:

Stretching: It requires commitment & effort.
Understood: Employees know has to be achieved, what is required and why it is important.
Supported: It includes a plan of action that should ensure success.
Time bound: Everyone knows what to achieve and by when.
Achievable: It is realistic within resource and time constraint.
Inclusive: It draws everyone (team/working group) into achieving the goal.
Negotiated: Objectives are agreed upon rather than imposed.
Answerable: Performance outcome and not the activity are measured.
Believed: It is seen as the right objective to be achieved.
Linked: It is consistent with the organisational goal.
Explained: It is clearly stated with measurable outcome.

·         Measuring progress.

A few questions.
a)      Do I have a clear measure of performance?
b)      Do I have a clear measure of activity?
c)       Do I know how much effort is required to perform well?
d)      Do I review performance regularly?
e)      Do I give feedback regularly?
f)       Do I use measures of performance in formal reviews?
g)      Do I use measures to take decisions?
h)      Do I communicated performance indicators to all those who are involved?
i)     Do I ensure that all those who are involved understand what the performance is and how we deliver it?
j)     Do I understand the external factors (Herzberg Motivators) that affect the performance being measured?

·         Training & Development
·         Recognising performance.
·         Paying for performance.

  1. Developing the skills for motivation
·         Motivating self.
·         Making people feel valued
·         Developing communication
·         Identifying de-motivation
·         Consulting
·         Delegating
·         Coaching

  1. Motivating difficult situations
·         Motivating during change.
·         Motivating dispersed workers.
·         Motivating under-performers.

The 6 step process:

a)      Inform the individual in advance what you wish to discuss.
b)      State your understanding of the situation.
c)       Let the individual explain how he sees the issue.
d)      Get him to accept there is a problem if he has not done so.
e)      Encourage him to come up with some solutions.
f)       Arrange a follow-up meeting.

Some illustrative suggestions:

Relevant questions
Possible solutions
Is not carrying out tasks to the required level.
Do they have the right skill and training? Do they have the support that they need? Were they wrong recruitments?
Provide training, tools or equipments for improvement. Move them to another role. Make them agree this is not the job for him.
Sudden decline in the performance level. Making too many unforced errors.
What is causing the lack of concentration? Is the situation outside work or colleague related?
Be sympathetic- if necessary let them take some time off work. Work together to find a solution.
Slow decline in performance level.
Are they bored with monotony and the role? Do they need more challenge to motivate them? Are they overwhelmed by work?
Check if the role can be broadened or seconded. Help them to manage their workload better.
Timekeeping is bad
Do they have new commitments at personal level? Are there any issues at home or at work?
Give him options and flexibility. Avail professional help if required.
Relationship with colleagues poor
Are they overloaded with work? Are they showing signs of stress? Is it because of ego and personal clashes?
Train them in soft skills. Move them to a different team, if possibly for a temporary period.

·         Motivating a project team.

A few reflections for the change enablers:

a)      Do I need to introduce different motivational goals for the people?
b)      Do I need to re-set or re-emphasize motivational goals for the individuals?
c)       What are the losses accounted for and not recognised at the face of a situation?
d)      How will I maintain motivation in spite of an accounted for loss?
e)      Will the current R&R be appropriate after the change?
f)     If not, what changes in the current HR/IR set-up will be required to motivate the team in the new way of working?

(This is not an original piece of work. The credit is being acknowledged to Mike & Pippa Bourne)


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