According to New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink, motivation is no longer as simple as dangling a carrot in front of a bunny, and that if you put enough money on the table for your employees’ basic needs to be met, factors other than bonuses or material rewards or incentives come into play in driving people to do better work.
In my work with motivational marketing and training company, Trainstation, one of the things that is constantly said during meetings and training is that to achieve lasting results, we must tackle change at the belief rather than at the behavior level.
Imagine a child who you try to bring up purely on rewards and punishment – for every good behavior, a treat, and for every negative behavior, a sanction. Sure, this could work for a while, but without greater understanding of the reasons behind your reactions, this could induce either a sense of entitlement or a sense of bitterness, or both.
So what are the secrets behind motivation and sustainable change in your employees?
Find their “higher intention”
This is something Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) trainer and Trainstation CEO Carelle Lee Mangaliag constantly tries to elicit from people to help address unwanted behaviors or achieve desired goals. What’s important to them? Is there anything more important to them than that? What’s the bigger picture? How does this affect the people or world around them?
This may take a bit more time, though ultimately, taking the time to know what drives your people can also be a very effective use of your own time by showing that you truly have an interest in their well-being and happiness.
Align values and vision
When you find out what matters to them, communication can be customized to find alignment between what they want and what meaning and purpose your company can serve.
I was going through a particularly tough time in one of my own businesses Punchdrunk Panda back in 2010/2011, and looking back, I believe it was in creating the PdP-losophy that helped me, as a business owner, soldier on back then, and drove my team to work hard, because it stood for much more than a means to get by.
All companies go through their own share of ups and downs, and having a true North can help steer the team in the direction of its higher intention in the face of detours and roadblocks.
Bet on them
As entrepreneurs, we’ve clocked in considerable time as bootstrappers and multi-taskers, and as such, when we hire employees, we may tend to micro-manage every single task. Betting on them means giving them the autonomy and creativity to do work that they enjoy, excel at, and find purpose in. Betting on them also means investing time and effort to get to know them, even through casual lunches where you talk about things that matter to them other than work. It’s helping them gain skills or learning opportunities that develop them as individuals, both in and out of the workplace, that can also ultimately feed their higher intention.
In the same way teachers are sometimes considered “second moms”, employers are guardians of their employees as well once they’ve passed the student stage. As such, it’s important to remember that it’s not merely about dangling a carrot in front of them to elicit good behavior, but understanding what might be more important to them than that, and how you can continue to nourish them and keep them running even if they’ve already got the carrot.