To be an effective leader, you must understand motivation. I believe that you cannot motivate people, but you can create an environment where motivated people will want to come to work and thrive.
So what is motivation? It is simply the coming reward for one's efforts. Keeping this definition in mind, you need to understand what motivates the different departments in your company. The easy default everyone goes to as a motivator is money. I agree that money can be a reward for work performed, but in most cases, money is an equalizer for effort given and not a motivator — at least not long-term. Just remember that money is a reward for superior performance in the realm of motivation, but it is not the sole motivator.
Let's return to the fictional company that we discussed in the past few articles and look at each department and their underlying role in order to answer this question: "What's in it for me?"
When I managed the service department, the No. 1 point of contention with the technicians was the on-call schedule. Knowing that our vision was, "We want to be the biggest and best service provider in our city," it would be an easy jump for a technician to say, "Great, this means more on-call time and more overtime for me."
Left at face value, one could make this assumption, but this is where leadership driving the vision takes hold. What you, as the leader, need to do is answer the question, "What's in it for me?" Simple — the larger the service agreement base we build, the more technicians we can hire, which means the less you are on call. Anytime you can equate growth to a better life for youR employees, you help them to turn around their thinking. You show them that they win with each success of the company.
This follows the same logic as above using our fictitious company. You can again lead from the same "everyone wins" platform by explaining that with growth comes opportunity for everyone in the company. As you grow, you will need additional supervisors to lead the additional technicians.
Companies that embrace a sound vision, mission, and strategy are much more secure. We have all witnessed the financial turmoil over the last several years. What you can do during these times is lead from a position of customer and employee security. Your customers will see an engaged workforce, and your employees will see that, in spite of the economic conditions, the company is growing. Don't overlook the fact that employees want to know they are working for a strong and stable company with a bright future, not a company that opens its doors every day in hopes to survive.
A word of warning: As leaders, often we think that the same things that motivate us motivate our employees. This is not the case. Your employees have a much different vision of what they want out of their day than what we do as leaders. Don't make the mistake of centering your message to employees on what's in it for you.
The list of benefits and examples could go on and on if you stop and think about what the true underlying motivation is behind your workforce and their specific roles in the company. It is imperative that you take the time to tie your vision, mission and strategy back to the simple question that every employee has: "What's in it for me?" Once you answer this question, you have begun to lead your company in an entirely different way. I will tell you from experience — it is a lot of fun.