Summer and the long days of sunlight are winding to a close. Your employees are finishing up the last of their summer vacations of beach days, mountain hikes, over-shopping and Netflix binging. On that first Monday morning after vacation, who among your employees is waking up at the first sound of the alarm (or even before), highly motivated and excited to dive back in? And who is hitting the snooze button with a groan and throwing covers over their heads? You probably have an idea who falls into which camp, and it’s your highly engaged top performers that don’t need the snooze button. But do you know why? And more importantly, do you know why the others are running through every conceivable reason to take a sick day, weighing the believability of each option, and then reluctantly crawling out of bed?
Understanding what motivates your employees can help you close the gap between your highly engaged, top performers and your average or underperforming workers. (And that can be a lot of employees – according to the latest Gallup survey, 66 percent of workers aren’t engaged.)
Determining individual motivation isn’t obvious because it is an internal, emotional process that combines the intrinsic (from within the individual) and the extrinsic (from without). If your organization is relying mainly on extrinsic motivators like salary and bonuses, you are leaving many potentially excellent employees behind – and ensuring that your top employees will leave the first time someone offers a larger salary. If, say, Lincoln Frost was only in real estate for the financial gains he could make personally, he wouldn’t have set up his company in order to help property developers get access to the funding they need for their projects. Or, if Elon Musk was motivated only by money, he’d be living on an island somewhere, sipping margaritas and watching the sunset after selling PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002. Instead, he’s gone on to found Tesla Motors and invest in Solar City and SpaceX. We obviously all can’t be Elon, but sufficiently motivated we can all achieve great things.
What motivates us?
Getting paid well will get employees in the door, but over time it will not drive them to excel. The 2014 TINYpulse Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture report found that for 20 percent of employees, camaraderie among peers was the number one reason for high performance. The other top motivators were:
- Intrinsic desire to do a good job: 17%
- Feeling encouraged and recognized: 13%
- Having a real impact: 10%
- Growing professionally: 8%
- Meeting client/customer needs: 8%
- Money and benefits: 7%
- Positive supervisor/senior management: 4%
- Believe in company/product: 4%
Stop making assumptions
Do you want to know what motivates your employees? Ask them. If you haven’t talked to them about what gets them excited about their work, what they care about, and what frustrates them or blocks their ability to excel, then you are left making assumptions.
And we all know what happens when you assume.