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Motivation: why is it important to find purpose at work?
Even though motivation depends on many factors, it's essentially built upon the one crucial element - meaning. As a leader, you own tremendous power to motivate your employees. In the past, the strategy of "carrot and stick" or motivating with external rewards has shown success in employee motivation. This strategy might look useful for a while, but employees were gradually losing motivation and became exhausted in the long run. On the other hand, the company had to constantly increase their stake by offering numerous benefits, rewards, compensations, and so on.
To understand how motivation works and why it's important to find purpose at work, let's take a look for a moment at bees:
- Bees do not work because they fear to be fired or lose a reward. They don't produce honey because of fear.
- Bees know their purpose. They are instinctively guided by their inner calling (intrinsic or internal motivation).
- Bees are motivated by working with others and producing something that is beneficial to everyone.
- They are motivated by the process rather than by reward (external or extrinsic motivation).
How to increase the internal motivation of your employees:
Growth and development
Employees need room to grow. According to Daniel Pink, a motivational author, most people have the need to master their skills to perfection and fulfill their potentials. Providing your employees the room to grow means giving them space to make mistakes. However, to let employees create and express new ideas require an atmosphere of trust where employees are encouraged to get off the beaten path of thinking and come up with innovative solutions.
A leader creates the atmosphere of trust. His faith in employees' potentials, his support, and appreciation for their efforts and results create a fertile ground for creative solutions and innovative suggestions. If the leader successfully shifts his focus from criticism to what is well done will lead to surprising results.
Transparency is crucial for trust. It implies giving necessary information about company's functions, thus helping employees better understand their roles in the overall business processes. Transparency also means accessibility of a leader, his/her willingness to owe his mistakes, and sharing his experience with employees. Instead of a distant authority figure, the leader becomes a coach, who values honesty and is open to listening various opinions.
Morale and coworker relationships
If you build trust in the workplace, you'll boost employee morale, and significantly improve coworker relationships. Positive work culture with strong morale encourages employees to do their best, and builds a good team with common goals that are more important than personal.
Offering the right challenge
It is crucial for leaders to understand that every challenge is not good for every employee. The capabilities and affinities of individual employee are of the greatest importance. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist, believes that employees show their maximal efficacy when they enter the state of flow. The flow represents a state of full engagement and least resistance at the same time, as you may notice in a child who loses the sense of space and time while playing. This type of engagement resembles the game and can be achieved when the employee's capabilities and the challenge are at the same difficulty level. If the challenge is too big and employee's skills do not follow it, then you may opt to support your employee to achieve a new level of competence and adequately respond to challenge. In the second case, when skills outgrow the challenge - your employees are probably bored. They need a good challenge to engage their skills to the fullest.
To motivate employees to take a challenge, you may help them find out WHY they are doing it. According to Simon Sinek, an author and marketing consultant, companies that know why they exist, what their purpose is, and how they make the world a better place have low turnover. Moreover, employees who have found a purpose at work will go the extra mile.
Feedback needs to be constant and specific. If it doesn't address what is well done and what needs to be improved, it loses the meaning. A good feedback sends a message what is good and what corrections need to be made, and in what way. Only a good feedback can help your employees learn and grow.