I’ve been very lucky in my career to have many great bosses who knew how to figure out how to motivate their teams and individuals that report to them. Often, when I bring up motivation in classes, managers roll their eyes. They do this, because immediately they think about money. However, when I dive deeper, they often have not asked their employees how they are motivated. And they typically don’t ask because they are worried about the money. So how do I solve this? I ask managers to think about what motivates them and their teams. I then ask them to look at the list they have made and see what costs them money. Most of the time about 70% of things that motivate employees is not about money. And now I know what you are thinking…no way! How’s this possible? What are the magic items on their lists? Here are some of them; stretch assignments, mentorships, internal training, time with their managers, more flexible work arrangements, more feedback. These are just some of them. But you can make your own list. Managers often ask me how they can get this list. My response is simple, “Just ask”. When I managed people at the bank, I would ask them to fill out a favorite things sheet. When they did something good, I would look to that list to try to find something small to reward that behavior. It often costed me very little or nothing at all.
In my mind, it’s about recognizing your employees are human beings with needs. If you, as a manager, can figure out when your employee is looking for and attend to those needs, then your employees will be more motivated and engaged.