What is motivation?
Think about how you respond to a new project landing on your desk. If it is clearly defined with a specific purpose and you understand the reasoning behind it, there is a good chance that you will look forward to getting started with it. This is the basis for intrinsic motivation. You are driven by your internal dynamo to achieve the desired result. This is the key part to how any team should be motivated. Of course, individuals have to be compensated appropriately and there has to be career progression for those that seek it but the real ‘get stuff done’ skills show up when the individual is motivated from within. In his book Drive, the author Dan Pink talks about how we are now in the age of ‘Motivation 3.0’.
We are currently living through motivation 3.0 according to author Daniel Pink. 1.0 was all about survival getting enough food, water and shelter. 2.0 happened in the industrial age. A factory worker was willing to do X to get paid Y. The modern era has changed how we are motivated which leads to Motivation 3.0. We can see this in ‘The Great Resignation‘ where after the COVID pandemic and the multiple lockdowns, we began questioning how we had been spending our time. We thought about how commuting seemed to be a waste of time in a lot of cases – spending an hour in traffic to do a job that could have been done at home in your pyjamas. And so, we began looking for more purpose in our roles, in how we spend our time. Once the basics are in place i.e. we can cover our bills with what we are getting paid and we can see an outline of a career path, we ask ‘well does the work I am doing actually fulfil me?, do I enjoy it?’ Most jobs, no matter how exciting and fulfilling have probably 10% that is not enjoyable but we are willing to put up with that 10% if the other 90% makes us feel good about how we are spending our time.
Intrinsic versus Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is intrinsic – we complete a task because we feel challenged by it in the right way. Companies that use the reward/sanction approach to getting things done will be left behind. There is a great realisation that we, as a workforce, do not want to do work that only rewards us extrinsically. We want to be fulfilled in our work while getting recognition for it in the form of unexpected praise and constructive feedback. Just like how the ‘command and control’ type of management does not fly in the modern work world, offering extra money and time off does not work in the long term. If someone is only doing their work to get paid, they will hit a motivational ceiling. They will only perform when there is a clear external reward. Ultimately you and you team should aim to be ‘good citizens’ of your company. You should do the right thing even when no one is watching. When that happens, you have intrinsically motivated employees.
How to motivate your team
There is an old saying that goes ‘what gets measured, gets done’. This is wrong. The truth is, and no one will usually say this out loud, what gets rewarded, gets done. Think about it, you tell a sales team that you want them to serve the customer and not to be pushy with upselling and cross-selling but then you have a bonus structure that is based on the revenue generated by the individual seller. Of course they are going to push the upsells and cross-sells. You are telling them one thing but rewarding the exact opposite.
Resolving motivational errors
One of the best ways to resolve this kind of conflict is to get input from the team themselves. You ask them to submit ideas on how the compensation structure should work so that they are getting rewarded for what you want them to get rewarded for. This could be repeat business from the customer or a certain NPS to show customer satisfaction. Every business is different but how you motivate your team is a question worth asking. Another topic to go along with this one is the idea of persuasion. You might know what you need to do, now figure out how to go about getting your team on board.