Whether you are the CEO of your own startup or a manager at a larger company, it is easy to search for “hacks” or other shortcuts that can lead to your business goals. In the search for these hacks, however, many people overlook a key force that underlies business success or failure.
It is motivation
Motivation is the thing that gets you out of your comfort zone. It is the catalyst that moves you and others to take smart, calculated risks. An absence of motivation, however, can scuttle any organization. Opportunities are missed, customer relationships die off, and profits are left on the table.
For these and other reasons, it is absolutely critical for all employees to have a basic understanding of motivation. While there are several interesting texts on the subject, one of my favorites is Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations. Written by Dan Ariely, the book offers us some extremely valuable insights into how we can motivate and be motivated.
One of the Greatest Motivation Myths
Payoff provides an excellent exploration of motivation and why it is more complex than you may think. While there are many important insights in the book, one of the most important centers on where motivation comes from.
The general consensus is that motivation can be triggered by things like cash and other monetary rewards. We give an employee a raise and we expect them to be continuously motivated to produce even more value for our companies. These external rewards, however, don’t move the needle as much as connection and meaningful work. From the CEO down to the most entry-level employee, we are looking for work that truly means something and lets us connect with others.
Company cultures have a large part to do with this. For instance, if your company is known for being a cold place where managers constantly change their minds or toss away work, your employees are going to be less motivated. Company morale plummets. Your colleagues get less done and you see the results in the bottom line.
By contrast, creating a positive workplace culture that values connection and meaningful work pays off financially and non-financially. Your colleagues find the inspiration to take on that new project or launch that experiment that they’ve always wanted to launch. All of this leads to happier employees and more profits.
As the manager of a gaming company with over 500 people around the world, I constantly think about these ideas. Ultimately, I agree with Ariely. In a world where money is seen as the main motivator, connection and meaningful work can be your killer app. By designing your organization to emphasize these two important attributes, you can create a workforce that is engaged, motivated, and ready to accomplish your business goals.
How to Increase Motivation in Your Organization
So considering these facts, you may be wondering how to actually increase motivation in your organization. Even further, you may be looking for a way to become more motivated yourself. While connection and meaningful work are easy to understand on the surface, implementing them can be much tougher.
First, make sure that you and your colleagues have opportunities to take ownership of your work. What you don’t want is an overbearing manager or boss micromanaging your work. Instead, create an environment where employees have the freedom to pursue their passions. Make it easier for those employees to collaborate with others. Google’s “20 Percent Time” is a good model here.
Next, give frequent feedback. Feedback is so powerful because it shows that you are interested in your colleagues’ careers. Not only that, but constructive employee feedback makes your colleagues better. They improve their craft and use those improvements to create more value for your organization.
Finally, don’t hesitate to give compliments or call out employees for great work. These public compliments can go a long way in making your colleagues feel welcome and appreciated. Make sure they are authentic, though, as inauthentic compliments can do more harm than good.
Get Started Today
Motivation is more complex than expected, yet there are things that we can do today to motivate ourselves and our colleagues. Yes, it takes courage and commitment. None of the tactics above will come easy. Nonetheless, by getting started today, you can motivate yourself and your employees, thereby helping you and your colleagues accomplish your business goals.