What Leaders are Getting Wrong About Motivation

 Photo @tifffhung

Photo @tifffhung

Bonuses, paid vacation time, free food, gift cards, elaborate parties, & beer on tap... It’s perks on perks galore in today’s workplace of engaging employees.

Don’t get us wrong, we love in-house Friday happy hours just as much as the next person, but how much of this stuff actually has long-term effects on the motivation and passion in our employees?

Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise (aka the perks we are used to seeing today). However, in the face of unpredictability in today’s dynamic business environment, how can we motivate our workforce in a way that is even more competitive than the other cool companies out there?

 

The answer lies in fostering intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is driven by something entirely different than perks and bonuses. Intrinsic motivation is more of a renewable resource when employees need to navigate ever-changing conditions in young and vibrant companies while still sustaining their drive. While extrinsic motivation relies on physical rewards, which need to be engineered and can eventually be exhausted or disregarded, intrinsic motivation is a well that we, as leaders, can tap into. Even if the target is moving or shifting, it drives you forward like an engine. With intrinsic motivation, you’re not being pushed or pulled: It comes from within. This proves to be more effective in the long term.

Here are some practical things you can do today as a leader to really tap into that intrinsic well of wealth for your teams:

 

#1: Tell stories

 Photo @waityouneedthis

Photo @waityouneedthis

As a leader, our role is to help develop common purpose in the organization, repeating the mission and vision that you’re trying to achieve as a collective. Even more powerful are “impact stories” that illustrate how individual employees live out the company’s mission.

 

#2: Make everyone feel like they contribute

 Photo @collagevintage2

Photo @collagevintage2

Link your company or business’s common purpose to everyone at every level. When individuals feel that they are contributing to a higher-level mission, they produce greater results. Your job as a leader is to a shine a light on this. Thank every portion of your organization, especially the less glamorous parts.

 

#3: Freedom is power

 Photo @happilygrey

Photo @happilygrey

Restricted decision space encroaches on your employees’ abilities to prove themselves, leaving them unmotivated and disengaged. Instead of micromanaging, extend trust as far as you responsibly can with each individual.

 

How do you motivate your team?