I accepted the official position of Popcorn Kernel this year for my son’s Cub Scout Pack which means that I am responsible for inspiring approximately 100 Cub Scouts and parents in our Pack to sell popcorn as a fundraiser. As I thought about how to motivate the boys to sell, I reminded myself that I’ve learned over the years in my career as a leader of a team of HR professionals, that no one can motivate another human being to do anything…motivation comes from within an individual, not from the outside.
As leaders and managers, once we understand that no one does anything unless he/she is motivated to do so (either to gain a positive reward or avoid a negative consequence), we are privileged and challenged to understand our employees’ motivational triggers. As I’ve learned over the years with my employees and our clients’ employees, and as is being reinforced with my experience as Popcorn Kernel, the motivational triggers for each person are unique. One employee may be motivated by having a best friend at the office, another by being compensated well, yet another by having flexibility in his/her work hours and still another by being afforded increased responsibility. There are a number tools of measurement of motivational factors that help employees understand their own motivational triggers as well as provide insight for leaders and managers into their employees’ motivational triggers. However, I believe that to truly understand what individual employees value about their workplace environment – that in turn become motivational triggers – you have to spend time with your employees with the intent to understand what they perceive as having value.
This is not a one-time event where you meet with employees for this specific purpose. This enlightenment on the part of both the employee and the leader unravels from a trusting relationship between the two. As you strive to create a workplace environment where all of your employees are afforded the opportunity to perform at their best, you will discover how to adapt your leadership style to individual employees so that they find the internal motivation to do their best. And as is true with most things in life, this will change over time. The motivating factors for an individual who is young and single will change as that same individual matures and perhaps starts a family.
So, as you strive every day to be the best leader for your team, recognize the value to your organization of honest, open communications with your employees. An organization whose employees work together and contribute their individual personal best every day is virtually unstoppable!
For more information regarding this post or how Raffa, P.C. can help your organization, please contact the author, Simone Putnam, Partner of our Human Resources Practice, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-955-6770.