We all know what the No. 1 motivator is. (And no one believes those surveys that say people aren’t in it for the money.) Here’s the next best thing you can do to motivate folks.
There’s no real secret to what gets — and keeps — people excited about their jobs. Let them tell you.
Managers continue to get surprised during exit interviews when they find out why people are really leaving. More often than not, it’s several little things that add up and ultimately drive someone to another job.
Even if they’re not leaving, an unmotivated employee is an unproductive one … and, worse, one who could poison co-workers against your organization.
Zero in on the best way to ask
There are plenty of ways to find out what really makes people come to work every morning. Two strategies:
- Address it one-on-one. Performance reviews are a great time to talk about what makes specific staffers tick. But if you put people on the spot, they may just throw out an answer that’s the first thing that pops into their head, or something that just happens to be on their mind at that moment. Instead, think about asking employees to come into his or her review with a list of what motivates him or her personally and (if possible) what could be done at the company to address that. That forces some quality thought and gets people talking solutions instead of just raising problems.
- Solicit suggestions. A suggestion box or survey is another way to solicit ideas on what will make folks more motivated. And since those options tend to be anonymous, people will speak their minds. But be prepared: You may have to weed through a lot of out-there suggestions (the downside of anonymity) to nab a couple of usable nuggets.
Consider the audience
Your organization may have the best maternity benefits around. But if your department (or company) is full of unmarried 20-somethings and Baby Boomers, that won’t give you much of a lift morale-wise.
Take a look at your team and the perks your company currently offers. How well do they match with your existing demographics?
Even if you can’t introduce new benefits now, you can certainly play up the ones that are most beneficial to the people in your group.
Be prepared: If you’re going to ask people what motivates them, you’re going to have to be willing to follow up with folks about it.
If people feel you took interest in helping to make their jobs more satisfying but then did nothing with the info, you’ll have more of a morale problem than you had before you asked!
Of course, the key is to manage expectations from the start: Letting people think you can put a four-day workweek in place and then all you can deliver is pizza day on Fridays, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.