• Peak Performance

A Practical Journey towards Leadership Development – Motivation and Engagement


This is the third article in a series outlining an approach to building leadership capability.


Surveys indicate that 73% of workers are less motivated today than they used to be. 84% said they could perform much better if they wanted to. A full 50% of employees say they are exerting only enough effort to hang on to their jobs! Consistently “lack of motivation” is identified as a human resources concern in business. 69% of operating managers rate lack of employee motivation as the most annoying problem in their organization and the issue that takes up most of their time. You get the picture… Motivation is a real challenge…


Motivation can be defined as a willingness to expend energy to achieve a goal or reward. It can come from two sources. It can be internal or intrinsic or it can be external or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when you engage in a behavior because you find it rewarding. It is not being forced on you, the behavior itself is its own reward. Extrinsic motivation is when we do something because we want to earn a reward or avoid punishment. A simple example to illustrate would be, you play a sport for the love of the game (intrinsic) or you play because you want to get the participation trophy (extrinsic)


What impact does motivation have on performance? Think about this equation. PERFORMANCE = ABILITY * MOTIVATION. I am not sure who came up with it, but I think it is brilliant. If anyone’s motivation is less than 1.00 (basic normal) their performance is going to be less than their capability. If we can stimulate their motivation above 1.00 then we can have a profound effect on their performance.


We now need to look at the second component to performance; engagement. Does engagement make a difference? Here is what we know, the way an employee feels about their manager has a direct impact on how hard they willing to work at work.


A Towers Perrin study said:

  • 84 percent of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their organization’s products, compared with only 31 percent of the disengaged.

  • 72 percent of highly engaged employees believe they can positively affect customer service, versus 27 percent of the disengaged.

  • 68 percent of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact costs in their job or unit, compared with just 19 percent of the disengaged.

We can clearly see that engagement does make a difference. Engaged staff have a whole different outlook on work. They:

  • Always give their best

  • Have - a positive attitude, focus, enthusiasm, and creativity

  • Can be trusted and they trust others

  • Respect their managers

5 things you can do to motivate and engage your team.


1. Know that not everyone is motivated by the same things


All people are not wired the same way. No two people will be engaged by the same motivational factor. When I first became a manager, I thought what motivated me would motivate everyone else. Boy was I surprised. One size does not fit all.


2. Find out what they love, get to know them


Often, we believe we have people who just can’t be motivated. That is just not true. The truth is we haven’t found what they love. As a leader, foster a sense of curiosity to find out what makes your staff tick. Ask them what they love. The DISC behaviour style model might also provide some clues. What motivates the D or Red style is very different from an S or Green. Ask them what they like about their job. Start a dialogue.


3. Set clear expectations for what you want


You cannot hit a target you cannot see. For many people, there is a strong sense of achievement when they succeed at something.


4. Give recognition for a job well done


39% of staff feel underappreciated at work, with 77% reporting that they would work harder if they felt better recognized. Wow, if this is true, why are we as leaders so cheap with positive feedback? A study by the firm Interact with 1000 workers in the United States described that the lack of appreciation by their managers is their number 1 complaint (63%). Yes, we know it is their job, but we need to show appreciation for a job well done because it builds intrinsic motivation.


5. Empower them with responsibility and a degree of control


Employee empowerment is a strategy and philosophy that enables employees to make decisions about their jobs. Employee empowerment helps employees own their work and take responsibility for their results. Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one's own destiny. Broadly speaking, when employees feel empowered at work, they are more willing to “Go the extra mile to reach the company's goals.”


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