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One of the first steps to motivating your employees, is to learn how to avoid de-motivating them. This may seem obvious but needs emphasising, as in their natural state human beings are intrinsically motivated.
Believe it or not, people are naturally enthusiastic, curious, and happy to problem-solve for the good of their host group.
This means that in their natural brain state employees don't need some manager or HR person to come along and think up ideas to motivate and manage them. Unfortunately few employees in modern organisations are in their natural state. Most employees suffer from some degree of stress. And it is stress that causes de-motivation.
Very often, it is actually the stress inherent in the way we run modern organisations that tends to de-motivate people. The underlying problem is that we do not treat them as humans at all. In fact, in essence the typical top down command and control bureaucracy we adopt is inherently dehumanizing hense the stress and de-motivation.
Modern motivation theory suggests that looking for external factors that might motivate people such as incentive schemes, or gimmicks such as team building events, is wasteful of time and effort. Instead, managers should simply avoid taking those actions that cause stress and de-motivate their employees. (See organisational stressors)
A powerful new approach to psychology, known as the human givens approach, recognises that we come into life with certain innate biological needs. When managers threaten or neglect these needs, or 'human givens', they create stress. This stress response triggers a wave of hormonal changes in the physiology. These changes effectively inhibit or suppress a range of those innate resources that we use to be productive and work in groups.
This hijacking of the brain, as it is sometimes called, can inhibit our enthusiasm, positivity, loyalty, and our ability to empathise with those around us. In addition, stress harms our ability to think straight, access our imagination and perform effectively. So, do you want to continue to stress your employees?
On the other hand, if you go some way to meet people’s biological needs, you can avoid creating stress and so enable people to maintain their optimum performance. Essentially all this means is to treat other people as adult human beings. Treat them as you would like to be treated yourself.
Here are ten suggestions that will help you meet key psychological needs and so avoid the usual pitfalls of stress inducing management.
Tip number one - Provide recognition and social status - Give employees recognition for the work they do and the contribution they make. It costs nothing to show appreciation but the rewards to the organisation are immense.
Tip number two - Give a challenge - Human beings naturally rise to a challenge. This faculty is a key survival mechanism that has served us well over the eons. So why not make use of it? Give your employees a real challenge to work towards.
Tip number three - Ensure a sense of belonging - How can you expect loyalty unless you make this reciprocal? If you make people feel they belong, their natural state of loyalty will pay dividends. They will always be happy to go that extra mile and this will benefit the organisation in countless ways.
Tip number four - Empower participation in decision-making - Everyone has an innate need for some autonomy and control over their lives. Denying this human given with an authoritarian leadership style can be a real de-motivator. So, allow people to join in with the process of decision-making. In addition this is a great method to harvest new ideas and stimulate creative problem solving that really adds value to the organisation. This is a core aspect of Team Business Development's planning system
Tip number five - Provide ongoing feedback - Provide regular, forthright and ongoing feedback as to your employees’ progress. The annual appraisal is just not enough. Human beings need attention as well as recognition, so lavish people with ongoing positive feedback. At the same time deliver timely and non-personal negative feedback about areas of weakness. The biggest turn off is to let them just hang there in a void of indifference.
Tip number six - Enable work to be fun - Provide scope for fun that is intrinsic to the work. This can be as easy as allowing the employees to have a hand in designing their own work processes, work area and routine. Happy workers are productive workers.
Tip number seven - Allow social interaction - We are highly gregarious mammals and thrive off regular social interaction. Without this we tend to feel isolated and insecure and can get stressed as a result. Design a good level of social interaction into the work environment. This includes keeping operational units below a size of 150 people.
Tip number eight - Ensure a healthy routine - The long working hours culture in the UK causes stress in a variety of ways, not least of which is the simple exhaustion. Tiredness not only de-motivates, but also increases the mistakes we make.
Tip number nine - Instigate continual improvement - Instilling a culture of continuous improvement is a great natural motivator. Continuous improvement techniques based around adequate training, good teamwork, the devolvement of authority and problem solving to the lowest possible level are exhilarating and liberating. Continuous improvement intitiatives give a real sense of purpose and achievement to those involved. The you think you have arrived at the best you can ever do is the day to retire.
Tip number ten - Insist on high standards of quality and ethics - The two aspects are inextricably linked. Both low quality performance and poor ethics generate a wide range of negative reactions among staff. Nobody relishes working for an outfit with a cowboy reputation. Create an atmosphere of trust and openness in the working environment and you can improve energy levels by as much as 50%.
TBD integrates these top ten motivators from modern motivation theory into the six-week rapid transformation programmes.
Read more about generating high performance in the work place using the human givens model of motivation theory.
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