Motivation and what managers don’t do

An executive recently told me his view on employee motivation.

He said that employees are motivated mostly
by achieving things.
Followed closely by that is the desire to be recognised for achieving those things.

I though it was great. It made sense and the concept is so simple. I wish more would managers share this attitude or at least practise it within their teams.

Employee motivation shouldn’t be a challenging task. I think that every equation is a human equation, whether it’s politics, profits or climate change. Humans are the cause of problems and humans are capable of creating solutions for most complications.

Why do we fall into this trap that there are two types of people in the workplace? The stereotype that workers don’t want to work unless they are threatened and that bosses are cunning at manipulating people so that they can profit at their expense.

I kid you not, that even in today’s age, some people fall into these perceptions. I once had a conversation with a young manager who told me that it was so hard to fire people these days with so much protection of employees and rules. I was being courteous with my listening but I just thought: if you pick them, then try to inspire them, you might earn some points in the leadership category.

Here is one theory as to why this happens. Under-qualified employees who are promoted to management positions might be lacking in some basic management training. Knowing that modern day workplaces do not need to be run like 1950s textile factories is just a start.

All sarcasm aside, on the first day of any managers promotion to the role, the definitions of Leadership and Management should be presented to them. Along with it should be the indication that they are not the same thing and should not be mistaken with each other. That both can be practised and they should both be practised regularly.

Leadership: the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group

Management: the act or manner of managing handling, direction, or control.

We may still call the role “management” but in today’s workforce all professionals expect more leadership than management from such roles. We sometimes see that managers are sometimes too busy or uninterested to learn what aspirations their subordinates have and where their strengths lie. This observation is demonstrated each time a team undertakes and behaviour and personality assessment and everyone is surprised by how everyone is unique and why their style is so different.

A tip for bosses
Find out what your workers are passionate about. If they are ready, give them a challenge that is in line with their aspirations and one they would enjoy succeeding at. It’s important to not overwhelm them.

A tip for employees
If you have career goals, share them with your superiors. It’s your job to speak up. Get some advice about how to progress your own career. Through their experience, your supervisors could give you some great insights. If you are in a workplace that doesn’t recognise your skills in a fair way, then look for organisations that would appreciate what you have to offer. You’d be amazed at the differences between organisations are when it comes to culture and workplace enjoyment.

Some people are not motivated. Some managers don’t take the time to inspire others. Some employees are motivated but either not valued or not suited in their role. Some managers are great leaders but are working with difficult employees. Some managers mean well but are not aware of their deficiencies. There are always gaps. Try to think the best of others. Motivation is everyone’s responsibility to certain lengths but remember that superiors have a bigger influence on culture through their own communications and behaviour.

This post was inspired by a tumblr post I had written months ago: