3 Ways to Motivate People at Work

Motivating-People-RelatednessMotivating people to do great work is a continual challenge for managers. The truth is you can’t really motivate anyone, they have to motivate themselves. Yet companies invest in incentives and reward programs, and hope for the best. Don’t be fooled. Science tells us that people are motivated to satisfy three psychological needs:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Relatedness
  3. Competence

Autonomy is our human need to perceive we have choices. It is our need to feel that what we are doing is of our own volition. It is our perception that we are the source of our actions, according to Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging by Susan Fowler.

Relatedness is our need to care about and be cared about by others. It is our need to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives. It is our need to feel that we are contributing to something greater than ourselves.

And of course, competence is a feeling that comes when we can successful do our job, solve problems and be useful. If you’re not offering opportunities to achieve satisfaction in any of these three areas, you’re leaving the door wide open for employees to become disengaged.

This is nothing new. One of the first research studies on human behaviors at work was the Hawthorne studies by GE at a plant outside of Chicago in 1924. Workers were observed to increase productivity because they were being observed and included in social interactions. George Elton Mayo described it in terms of a positive emotional effect due to the perception of a sympathetic or interested observer.

We are social animals and when offered opportunities to work together, such as in teams, we improve our engagement and productivity. We thrive on connection. Think about it: We spend an enormous percentage of our time at work, getting ready for work, preparing for meetings and presentations, thinking about what we’re going to say or do. Some estimate an average of 75 percent of our waking hours are focused on work.

If you don’t get your relationship needs met at work, you are not likely to compensate for it in the limited amount of time outside of work.

As a leader, one of the great opportunities you have is to help your people find meaning in their interpersonal experiences at work. Yet when managers apply pressure to perform without regard to how it makes people feel, people interpret the managers’ actions as self-serving. That never works, and in fact is a good reason for people to disconnect and disengage.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Contact me here and on LinkedIn.

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Once Again: What Motivates People At Work?

Motivating-PeopleMost business leaders have lost sight of what motivates people at work. In fact, some companies haven’t updated their incentive practices in years, which means they’re incapable of creating high-performance teams.

Companies continue to ignore the obvious: Offering incentives and rewards is less effective than tapping into truly meaningful intrinsic motivation. Leaders operate on old assumptions about motivation despite a wealth of well-documented scientific evidence.

The old “carrot-and-stick” mentality may actually inhibit employees from seeking creative solutions, partly because they focus on attaining rewards instead of solving problems. If you look at some of the major failures in business, they focused on rewarding short-term results at the expense of sustaining success. Read More »

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Business Writing Tips: Get Readers
to Take Action

Business Writing-Take Action Now Smart business writing creates results. It helps if it’s interesting and well-written, but the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Will this report, memo or email get my reader to take action?

In my last post, I helped a client rewrite her resume so that it improved her chances of getting the job interview she wants. This meant she had to directly address the needs of her potential employer first.

Colleagues decide whether to read your memo or report based on the first few sentences. You need to grab their attention right away and create a desire to know more.

Many business professionals introduce the subject matter slowly and build up to make their point. They often start from their own point of view, talking about themselves and how they’re connected with the reader or the problem.

This is a mistake. Readers immediately want to know: “Why am I reading this? What’s in it for me? Why should I care?” Read More »

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Rewrite that Resume to Get the Job You Want

Job-ResumeSometimes you have to turn conventional wisdom on it’s ear. A standard resume might get you a standard job, but will it get you the career you want? I was recently in email contact with a client who wanted advice on getting an interview for a job she wants.

Dear Chip:

I would like to apply for a director or VP position in Marketing, and I feel I need more coaching on how to conduct a great interview.  I feel inadequate and would like polishing.

I asked her to send me a copy of her resume for starters. Here is my response: Read More »

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Personal Presence: Image Matters

Personal-Presence-ImagePersonal presence is key to getting promotions, sales, and business results. While character and communication skills are crucial, first impressions count for a lot. Your image matters.

The good news is that attention to polish and grooming can enhance your perceived attractiveness. It doesn’t take genetic re-engineering, or money, or plastic surgery. To be perceived taller, you can stand tall, walk tall, and sit tall by adjusting your posture and using larger gestures.

Carefully observe those you know who make the best of their appearance. Ask them what they do. What are their rules for choosing wardrobe or makeup? What are the taboos? Read More »

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Personal Presence: How Much Do Appearances Matter?

Personal-Presence-GroomingHow much are you judged on your appearance at work? Surveys can offer some guidelines as to what senior leaders expect. Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on executive presence, including appearance.

More than a third of surveyed executives considered polish and grooming the most vital to one’s personal presence, ahead of physical attractiveness (less than a fifth). It’s not your body type, height, or weight that matters most. It’s what you do with what you’ve got.

Anyone can improve his or her looks through better grooming habits. While dress standards vary, good grooming signals discipline, competency, good health, and that you care.

In a study at Harvard Medical School, judgments about a woman’s competence, likeability, and trustworthiness were affected by how much makeup she wore. The more makeup worn, the higher the women were rated. Read More »

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Your Personal Presence: Appearances Matter

Personal-Presence-AppearancesHow much time and attention do you give to your wardrobe and appearance? It’s often the little things that count. Like it or not, first impressions matter. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book Blink, back in 2007? The author stresses how quickly we decide to like or dislike someone. Our brains size up people in less than 250 milliseconds.

While character and communication skills are key, you won’t influence the people you need to lead if your appearance telegraphs that you’re clueless. Read More »

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Leading with Trust: 5 Skills to Master

Trust-BuildingI’ve been thinking a lot about leading with trust, how important it is to leadership, and how it’s probably the one factor you can’t ignore if you want to improve as an effective leader. Trust isn’t something you can just leave to fate, assuming because you’re a trustworthy person, it will naturally show up. Anyone who’s been in charge of people knows that trust isn’t included as part of your job title; you’ve got to earn it.

How can you develop stronger trust in your relationships, especially when now days there is more skepticism about leadership in general?

“When it comes to trustworthiness, both mind-sets and skill sets matter,” according to authors David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford in The Trusted Advisor.

If you work hard to master these five skills you’ll still need to be sincere in your efforts to build trust. Here are the five abilities that you’ll need to practice and master if you want to lead with trust: Read More »

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Leadership Trust Buster: High Self-Orientation

Self-orientation-trust-busterHow can executives improve their levels of leadership trust? I’m continuing from my previous posts on how to build up trust. Based on solid research and advice of authors David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford in The Trusted Advisor, we can break trust down to four components:

  1. Credibility
  2. Reliability
  3. Intimacy
  4. Self-orientation

Self-orientation is the degree to which you insert your needs and interests into the relationship equation. This is what salesmen do when they are advised to “always be closing.” It clearly can be a trust buster. And it is identified as a significant opportunity for improvement in the trust equation:

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
                        Self-orientation

Simply defined, self-orientation is about focus, more specifically, who you focus on – yourself or others. When you have a low self-orientation, that’s a good thing for trust levels. For example, if your partner can say she honestly feels you care about her career and how this project will benefit her, then you demonstrate a low level of self-orientation. Read More »

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3 Ways to Build Up Leadership Trust

Leadership-Trust-BuildingHow do you build leadership trust? Most of the executives I work with tell me they know trust when they see it, but not many have a clue about why trust exists, how to build it up, or what happened when trust was lost. The trust equation lays out four components of trustworthiness which makes such things much clearer to deal with. I wrote about this here and here, but now I want to show you how it shows up in conversations.

“Trust is a two-sided relationship: One person trusts, and the other person is trusted. While trusting and being trustworthy are related, they are not the same thing.” Maister, Green and Galford in The Trusted Advisor

The authors elaborate on their trust equation which defines trust as being built on four components:

  1. Credibility
  2. Reliability
  3. Intimacy
  4. Self-orientation

To improve your leadership trust and your trustworthiness in any business relationship, you improve the degree of credibility, reliability and intimacy you share with the other person. Self-orientation is a measure of how much you put your interests before those of your partner. To improve your trust levels, you would lower your self-orientation.

Ways to Boost Credibility

Read More »

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