4 top tips for enhancing workplace motivation

Do you know what motivates the people in your workplace to perform at their best?

Are you happy with the general level of motivation and performance?

As a leader, getting the best out of the people in your team can be a challenge. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the people in your organisation always perform poorly or that morale is low. It may just mean that performance levels are generally good, but you have a feeling that there is something preventing them from being great. Some missing X factor that you can’t quite put your finger on. It's your job to try and work out what that missing element is so that you can find a way to create or provide it.

True, you can choose not to investigate it and leave things as they are, but wouldn’t you prefer to lead a workforce that is excited by what they do and motivated to continually improve their performance? Wouldn’t that also improve overall productivity and profit?

The following tips can be used, not only by you but by employees at all levels to help motivate the team as a whole.

The Mentor List Podcast - Rebecca Burrows - Australia POst

Recognising different types and levels of motivation in others

One mistake that many new leaders (and some not-so-new ones) share is presuming that everyone is motivated by the same things. For example, you may set targets for your sales team to help boost annual returns. This may be enough to spark a fire in the belly of some team members and get them to immediately start looking for ways to increase their sales. Yet, you may notice that others continue working at their current level or even start to allow their sales figures to drop. So, why didn’t everyone’s performance increase?

While some people thrive on the stress of competition, others work better when they are intrinsically motivated. Others, still, might find the challenge of sales targets quite daunting and stressful.

Not everyone wants to be the boss, so offering job promotions as incentives can sometimes fall flat. Some are happy to reach a certain level and stay there and that’s ok. Some love being at the front line or face to face with customers in service or hands-on type roles. For example, posties, couriers, maintenance, retail and customer service staff. Helping people directly is what they love about their job, but this motivation can get taken away when they are promoted to an office environment. This can also happen when people in specialised or creative roles, such as research or design, get promoted. Suddenly, they are not doing the work that they are passionate about any more.

The Mentor List article How Richard Branson Motivates His Staff explores the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the different factors that drive people to perform well at their job. It’s important for you to allow for these in your planning and strategies.

What motivates you?

Have you ever sat down to consider what it is that drives you to do your best? Has this changed over time or in different situations?

In her interview on The Mentor List, Rebecca Burrows, General Manager for Small Business at Australia Post, reflected that some of her motivating forces shifted when she changed roles. They included:

·      Working with people whose jobs were a part of their personal identity.

·      Providing effective solutions for customers.

·      Meeting deadlines and ticking things off at the end of each day.

·      Having the confidence to own her decisions.

·      Having the privilege to lead others.

·      Building long-term changes and projects.

When Rebecca realised that her motivation changed in different roles, she had to change her thinking processes and re-evaluate how to be an effective leader in each situation. This included learning how to set the appropriate working pace for her team. Is your approach suited to your current role or do you need to reassess it?

Ask your team what they are passionate about

The most effective way to learn what motivates your team is to ask them. Don’t make assumptions on their behalf or overlook this area entirely as you might never find your missing X factor.

Instead, make a point of getting to know your employees and respect them as individuals with different wants and needs. This does not mean that you have to become best friends with everyone, but you do need to know things like how many are working mums or if they thrive in a fast-paced environment.

Ask your employees what motivates them and what their aspirations are. You can do this during interviews but also in performance reviews or when chatting in the lunch room.

Remember that, if you want your team to be open with you, you need to be open with them, too. Be transparent about company financials and goals, for example getting employees motivated to help achieve company goals is a win-win but to do this you need to build trust both ways.

See The Mentor List article Trust yourself so others will trust you and How to become a better communicator (and why that’s important) for more helpful tips on this topic.

Tell people what you want

If you’re an employee or team member, you can also help get these conversations going by speaking up and telling your boss and colleagues what’s important to you. If you keep getting incentives that don’t excite you, say so. If you really do want to contribute to the growth of the company but you’re not getting that opportunity, say so. Sometimes, this may not result in any immediate change, but if you and those you work with consciously make your voices heard, then eventually someone will surely listen.

You can also ensure that others know about other skills you have that you’d like to use. Maybe you’re working in reception, but you have a degree in marketing? Maybe you’ve learned to code and you’d like to help redevelop the company’s website? Whatever your hidden talents are, they will remain hidden until you start promoting them. It might just help you turn your ‘good’ job into one the makes you jump out of bed, raring to go each day. Why not make it happen?


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Rebecca Burrows is the General Manager for Small Business at Australia Post. She has a track record of delivery of sustainable growth in both mature and emerging markets, driving sizeable and sustained efficiencies across large scale operations and building and leading highly engaged and performing teams.

Rebecca is a true enterprise leader - with a track record of strong relationships across stakeholder groups including staff, customer, unions and government and is able to manage the complexities presented by competing priorities or perspectives.

To hear more of Rebecca’s story and discover what she’s learned about motivating herself and others in a variety of settings, take time out to listen to her podcast interview on The Mentor List today. You may learn how to change your thinking around motivation, too.


Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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