Motivation is certainly one of the most important tool for increasing performance within an organisation. It is driving strength in the involvement of collaborators who, by giving meaning to their tasks and objectives, express their personal potential to the maximum.
But what is the last frontier of staff motivation techniques?
That time on television they called me a motivator
“… to get where no organization has ever gone before…”
With apparent lightness, I borrowed the Star Trek p claim, to explore a broad and apparently well-known theme.
I did it starting from another famous “adage”, which tells of how it is more useful to teach how to fish rather than to give a fish.
Here, in this regard, I remember a time when I was on television and the authors decided to put me as a girth, without my knowledge, the words “motivator”. Talking about potentiality, leadership or personal and professional development activates this link, bringing together many professionals in a single category, equally considered experts in “employees motivation”.
Well, this label of “motivator”, which some friends stick on to me,to make fun of, I felt tight. It has always reminded me of the somewhat stereotyped image of the barker who injects, to perfect strangers, doses of pre-packaged energy, encouraging them to give more, commit, and strive.
“Keeping motivation is a discipline, it is an exercise, it requires resources. Motivation is not comparable to desire; or at least it’s not only this. It is also a habit of maintaining discomfort, of enduring.”
Motivation is a powerful but complex element
Yet, the work psychology arises precisely from the study of this complex and intriguing element: human motivation. As a consequence of the fact that, in the first factories, speed and commitment could make the difference between more or less profitable productions.
And motivation not only impacts on what we do and how (focus of the first studies on the subject) but also has implications in the famous “why”, in what drives us to act.
In organisational contexts, where it is no longer possible or distinctive to focus on standardization, on “commanding” and controlling, increasing motivation and engagement in the company, it has become even more, a crucial tool for generating high-level results, considering the impact that the engagement of individuals and teams has on performance and results.
Having said that and despite the now consolidated awareness that many and different “souls” coexist in every company, we still tend to develop strategies structured by categories and clusters, which simplify and speed up but, often they result in flashes of straw.
The universe of Hogan’s Motivational Levers
Hogan Assessments, one of the most widespread and scientifically sound personality tests, lists ten different motivational levers, ranging from money, power or recognition to altruism, hedonism and affiliation, from security and tradition to science and aesthetics.
It is also a common experience that I, subjectively, can be highly motivated in certain situations and much less in others. The pandemic, for example, has probably represented a challenge for people who are more relational, who have suffered more than others from the stress of social isolation.
The attempt, therefore, should be to develop a strategy capable of touching all the tools at the same time? Or different strategies, in continuous evolution, to be used with different collaborators, after having known them?
But this reasoning, perhaps, still follows the logic of the barker who “injects”, keeps the focus on “feeding” rather than making them autonomous. In a fluid context, where criteria, needs, desires and, consequently, motivations evolve very quickly and exponentially, where enthusiasm or determination can flare up out of nowhere and just as quickly diminish or die out.
In this context, investing in the development of the ability, to self-motivate and in the construction of a cultural substrate that feeds and enhances this ability, is perhaps, all in all, not only the most effective but also the most efficient choice.
Self-motivation distinguishes those who are able to seek and build meaning in different situations, to become passionate, to feel called into question, to take action, to have held and evolve even in difficulties and boredom.
Personnel motivation or self-motivation techniques?
The most relevant examples of staff motivation, then, are precisely those in which all HR processes but also managerial and business interaction practices are centered on the enhancement and development of a growth mindset, an attitude devoted to individual responsibility, shared construction, broad commitment, feedback and mutual provocation.
Here are three ideas to think about:
- How many times, in company, the question is asked: “And you, how would you do it?”
- How often are all the people in the organisation – not just talents, managers or top performers – are pushed out of their comfort zone?
- How many authentic, direct and incisive feedback do people exchange?
These simple 3 dimensions could be adopted as KPIs of an organisation’s self-motivating ability. A self-empowerment oriented organization.