How to keep employees motivated
We measure the success of our businesses by our productivity. Are things getting done? Are they getting done on schedule? Are we staying within budget? Are we meeting members'/customers' needs? Are we innovating?
But, we all go through phases of low motivation. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, we've had a million things on our minds and to-do lists, which can feel so overwhelming it's hard to even get started. It's not just leaders that feel this stress – our employees are experiencing similar emotions. What's important in these low-productivity situations is understanding why an employee isn't motivated and how you can help them overcome it.
Author and business guru David Burkus outlines four of the top reasons people lose motivation and how leaders can address them:
- Don't believe they can: We're asking a lot of our employees right now. Many of us are operating in remote environments, adopting more technology to get the job done, and rethinking the products and services that we offer. This is challenging for everyone – whether they've been at the company for 10 years or 6 months. The difference between those that can adapt and those who struggle is their mindset: Growth vs. fixed. Burkus says those with a growth mindset believe that with effort and learning they can build the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. Leaders must establish an environment that encourages this mindset, provides resources for needed training, and allows employees to openly discuss their frustrations and challenges.
- Don't believe it works: Every employee wants to feel like they're contributing to the overall mission and value of the organization. If they feel like their tasks and responsibilities are inconsequential, they'll be less enthused about doing them. Leaders – from direct managers to executives – must consistently reinforce how each employees' efforts build up to the larger picture. Help them see how their data entry helps the organization make better decisions. Share stories from members/customers who appreciated their member/customer service.
- Don't believe they're progressing: Growth is an important part of life. That's why we set goals for ourselves, our team, and our company. In the workplace, hitting goals can seem more like an expectation rather than an aspiration. An important component of setting goals is establishing the right milestones and indicators to show progress and then celebrating the little wins along the way. Even if a goal isn't met, it's important for leaders to communicate the good that still came out of the process.
- Don't believe it matters: Last week, I highlighted 15 qualities of great leaders, which included "vision and purpose." Each of our organizations has a mission statement and values, but is it clear? Do employees feel strongly about it? When we have a solid understanding of how our work is benefitting others, we are more likely to be committed to and passionate about our job.
While motivation may be more heavily impacted by the current environment, these situations are common regardless of a global pandemic. Leaders must stay diligent to identify employees who seem less engaged, talk with them to understand where their feelings are coming from, and work constructively to rebuild their motivation.
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