Sep 16, 2018
Motivation - what’s the point? And how do we motivate people as leaders? This week I outline the four factors most important for motivating people at work, and focus in on practical ideas to increase a sense of purpose.
I’ll let you in on a little secret - the truth is that, as leaders, we can’t motivate anyone to do anything - well, not directly anyway. But we can create the conditions that are likely to motivate people. In fact, I would argue that, as leaders, the majority of our impact is about setting up an environment where people are motivated about what the organisation is trying to achieve.
Leadership is about achieving results through people, and we do that through aligned motivation. It’s about aligning the things that motivate our people with the results the organisation needs to achieve. Here’s the good news - if our people are turning up to work, they are motivated. It just might be that their motivation isn’t currently aligned with we are trying to deliver.
Motivation matters, because it’s through motivation that we produce results. Motivation isn’t just about us as leaders and the organisation - it also matters because it provides meaningful and satisfying work for the people we lead.
Think about the times when you have been most motivated in your work - what was it about the organisation, your job and your leader that led to that?
Research into motivation has come a long way over the past few decades, and four factors emerge as particularly important when it comes to motivating people at work.
Today we’re going to focus on purpose - answering that question “what’s the point of my job and working here?” It’s a great place to start as, without a shared purpose, we don’t have a hope of achieving results through our people.
Researchers describe three levels of purpose that can be achieved through our work, each leading to an even greater level of motivation and engagement (Steger, M. F., Dik, B. J., & Duffy, R. D. (2012). Measuring meaningful work: The Work and Meaning Inventory (WAMI). Journal of Career Assessment, 20, 322–337).
Here are three ways you can build this sense of purpose for your people:
I believe these three approaches to building purpose can make a huge difference to an individual’s motivation at work. In addition, it provides a greater chance of aligning the individual’s motivation with the needs of the organisation. And it also allows you as the leader to set clear expectations for the person to work towards.
Again, the four main things that motivate and allow people to succeed at work are purpose, development, connections and autonomy. Over the next few weeks we will continue to explore motivation in each of these four areas, with practical ideas about what we can do as leaders to engage our people in the objectives of the organisation. Next week we will be looking at development, and why helping people to build their resume actually reduces turnover. Why not invite a couple of colleagues to subscribe to the podcast so you can work through these aspects of motivation together? I look forward to speaking with you then.