What I’m reading now: Employee Motivation

Although engagement gains did predict subsequent increases in organizational financial and market performance, the reverse was also true. In fact, gains in financial and market performance tended to boost certain aspects of employee engagement more than the other way around.

  • Author: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
  • Title: To Motivate Employees, Help Them Do Their Jobs Better
  • Source: HBR

Friday Fast Tip: Say Thanks…

… And not just because it’s almost Thanksgiving. Say thank you to those who help you, who inspire you, who teach you. Saying thank you may seem too simple, but it really is meaningful. After all, it’s usually the simple things that count! As a leader, it’s one of the most valuable things you can do to show your employees what they do matters. Recognition of someone’s effort doesn’t have to be complicated or grandiose, it just has to be genuine – so say thanks.

A Challenge to Leaders: Leading through Challenges

All organizations go through challenges, whether they are as significant as the recent government shutdown or more commonplace, such as growing pains from shifting business models. You shouldn’t expect or even want to avoid challenges (though some are less desirable than others). It is through these situations that individuals and organizations have the opportunity to grow. And as leaders, we are defined by our ability to navigate through challenges.

First, leaders must understand the impact on employees – most significant is the impact to trust and motivation.

Though change often comes with many new opportunities, it is hard for people not to equate change with risk and uncertainty. With those feelings come defensiveness and distrust, and sometimes the changes happening more than warrant those feelings. However, it is important to remember that distrust is a form of insecurity. When employees see their coworkers leaving or are asked to develop skills in new areas, they feel uncertain about how these changes will affect them. Rebuilding trust is about bringing back a sense of security. Let me be clear here, this is not about painting an unrealistic picture in order to temporarily assuage fears. Instead, leaders must be open, understanding, and focused on the end goal. Leaders should:

  • Be upfront about changes taking place, what impact they will have, and how long they are likely to last
  • Recognize that these changes may be hard for some employees and empathize with their feelings
  • Live the “open door” policy and encourage employees to come with concerns and suggestions
  • Demonstrate a commitment to creating a better organization despite challenges

Uncertainty can also lead to decreased morale. Especially if benefits are not seen immediately or if in fact negative changes have taken place. As morale slumps so does engagement, motivation, and productivity. To restore morale, bring back the “positive” as quickly as possible. For example:

  • Recognize employee achievements
  • Celebrate special events
  • Host face-to-face collaborative innovation sessions
  • Focus on the future and achieving goals
  • Reduce the sense of hierarchy and empower employees at all levels
  • Have a little fun!

Ultimately, the best way to handle a challenge is to come out of it stronger than when you went in. Whatever the cause or reason, a  great leader has the ability to take a challenge and turn it into something positive.  For example, during the recent shutdown, our team leaders focused on building their employees’ skills, developing new and innovative solutions, and creating tiger teams to improve existing services. When the shutdown ended, our teams were able to help their clients better than ever before. So, instead of getting lost in challenges, learn to accept the situation and transform it into an opportunity.

Guest Post: 13 Ways to Inspire Employees From the Employee Perspective

As per Webster’s dictionary, “Inspiration’ is an action or power that moves the intellect or the emotions.” Inspiration leads to discoveries and inventions; Einstein was inspired by a pocket compass at the age of five!

Image source: Google Images

Image source: Google Images

In the midst of technological changes and dynamic environments, what keeps an employee inspired towards analyzing, discovering, inventing and innovating? Consolidating responses from an email survey, I found the following factors to be most significant:

  1. A long term goal: “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. And an employee who sets a long term goal and has a directional sense of his efforts and achievements is motivated when his employer understands and supports his plan.
  2. Short term goals:  As the old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step.” Short term goals are the building blocks for long term goals. Achieving these milestones ingrains confidence and self-belief.
  3. Planning: Good planning provides a clear-sighted vision to the employee. It doesn’t require micromanagement, and employees are able to assess the value of their contributions for a successful delivery.
  4. Challenging work: Challenges sharpen the mind. ‘Smarter Thinking’ happens when intriguing work stimulates the brain cells and improves the decision making ability. Employees yearn for a sense of accomplishment. Those who develop innovative strategies are more curious and marketable than those who do tedious work.
  5. Rewards: Recognition in the form of appreciation notes, monetary and non monetary awards, and verbal encouragement provides positive reinforcement. Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, rewards help employees understand that they are respected by others.
  6. Work environment: An employee spends half of his lifetime at work and work environment makes a big difference. A positive environment is made up of positive leadership, positive thoughts, positive approach, and positive people. Besides healthy competition and intelligent negotiation, cohesiveness and teamwork are very important. Respectful relationships lead to emotional balance and open communication. A supportive team is a strong team. Support from the employer, especially during a personal crisis generates security.
  7. Regular feedback & training: Employees who receive regular feedback have the opportunity to work on their strengths and weaknesses. Easy access to training, reminders and custom course suggestions are a positive catalyst. Negative feedback should be accompanied with learning opportunities and a chance to grow.
  8. Interactions with leaders: If the leaders are accessible, employees feel connected and heard. Valuable employee surveys provide an avenue for voicing their opinions.
  9. Work-Life balance: Helping employees understand how to balance their work hours and providing benefits like flex hour options, healthcare, gym memberships, team lunches, etc. will rejuvenate the employees.
  10. Mentoring: Through mentoring, employees can tap into valuable in-house resources. Employees can become multifaceted through cross-functional and cross-business unit mentoring.
  11. Policies: Streamlined, clearly documented and easily accessible policies encourage employees to stay informed and ask questions.
  12. Equality: All employees must be considered equal. Favoring an employee may de-motivate another employee’s performance. Factual and criteria-based performance evaluations motivate the employees.
  13. Camaraderie: Interactive sessions lead to networking and knowledge sharing. These are especially critical for remote employees.

To me, the most important factor is knowing how my accomplishments are helping the community at large. How am I making a difference? When an employee is encouraged, he performs, but, when an employee is inspired, he excels!

This post was written by Preeti Tikia, IBM Requirements Analyst 

What I’m reading now: Meaning & Motivation

We have found that people’s work lives are enriched greatly when they feel they are making progress on work that is meaningful — in other words, when they feel they are making a difference in the world.

Friday Fast Tip: Say Thanks

Saying “thank you” goes a long way. It’s easy to overlook and underestimate, but a simple thank you can mean a lot. An easy, quick, cost effective motivator, employee recognition doesn’t have to be complicated. Try sending hand written notes thanking people for their hard work, be specific about what they did and why it was important