The Motivation Factors

What in the hell does a psychologist on the west coast know about motivating an employee on the east coast or vice versa?” I have read article after article, study after study, and blog after blog about the most effective ways to motivate an employee.  It appears that motivation has internal and external factors, consists of two processes: commitment and mental effort, it has 3 dimensions: direction, effort, persistence, and the people who provide the hooray’s for keeping us moving: catalyst and nourishers.

If all of this data is accurate, why is it so frealin’ hard to keep employees motivated, happy on the job, and continuing forward each year growing with the company?  What is causing the retention rates at companies to continue moving from 99% to 85% or lower each year?  Why are we not utilizing the 2 processes of motivation or the 3 dimensions to keep employees dancing in the streets and singing the name of their companies to all their contacts?  I ask the question again, what in the hell does a psychologist know about motivating an employee?

Every company can bring psychology into the work place and implement the most recent “study’s findings” into a “pilot program” to increase retention rates and keep employees happy.  Several have done this throughout the years and showed increased productivity across the organization.  But, others that attempted to implement had horrible outcomes and simply did the ostrich head in the sand, walking away from the pilot program completely.

Why do you think most HR programs have a difficult time motivating employees?  This has been plaguing me for a while now.  Then, I asked myself one question, “Monica, how could an employer motivate you?”  I came up with the following 4 Factors that might be universal for motivating all human performers, from low to high, and in between.

4 Motivational Factors

#1 Do Something “Off the Wall”

All days are filled with habitual habits that connect the people to the work each day.  What would happen if your manager did something completely unexpected?  What if he/she met you in the hallway dressed up like a freaking clown and began singing Everything is Awesomeor, whatever song that tickles you’re fancy.  This is one scenario of “off the wall”, as it could look like so many different things.

  • A quick race down the hallway with the winners name placed on the hallway wall of fame.
  • A contest of water bottle chugging with the loser buying lunch for the winner.
  • A bunch of sticky notes with employees statements, “motivating comments” placed on coworkers monitor.
  • A lunch time fun run with company logos plastered all over the groups shirts/pants.
  • A baseball game mid-afternoon for employees that have been working long hours on a project.
  • A chant down the executive hallway with manager and team members including project updates in the chant.

It would be great to see someone fall out of habit and into character for 5 minutes or longer in order to change an employees habitual habits of the day.

#2 Employee Partnership

Managers struggle with the line in the sand making certain that the manager-employee boundaries are not crossed.  This causes so much push back in so many different areas of daily projects that flow is very difficult to reach.  What if we built a partnership system that interconnects daily tasks, projects, etc. on an even playing field.  There is so much bureaucracy with titles that it blocks the human performance between individuals stopping them from achieving greatness.  A possible “open day” of no titles and partnership mentality might cause performance to flow.

#3 Lead by Example

We do so much of our daily communications non-verbally that most managers simply need to move in the way they want their employees to move.  The old saying, “Do what you want them to do vs. telling them what you want them to do.”  If you want employees to work on a project longer than normal, jump in the project with them and help out.  If you want employees to participate at company functions, make certain you are right in the middle of all of it.  Whatever you are asking of your employee, do that much and 20% more.

#4 Mentor Daily

Each and every one of us want to be a part of something and we want that something to be meaningful.  We not only want it to be meaningful, but we want others to say it was a meaningful endeavor.  In order to make it meaningful, people must hear encouraging words or a simple nonverbal action.  It does not take much time to share encouragement.  It does not take much time to pat someone on the back and say, “I am proud of the work you did on X_Z project.”  It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that sharing knowledge + encouraging others = high performance and good results.

The Skinny on Motivation

There really isn’t one method for motivating employees, it will take a long discovery process to uncover at each company.  But, I hear so much news about employees jumping ship right now in 2014.  They are moving to greener pastures in hopes of achieving those “motivating feelings” at the next company.  Why are you allowing them the opportunity to take all those hours you spent encouraging, mentoring, training, etc. for another company to reap what you sowed?  These 4 Motivating Factors might not be the answers to your retention rates this year.  BUT, I hope they stir up conversations within your HR department to come up with your own Motivational Factors that will motivate your employees.

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Monica Miller

Monica Miller, CIR-PRC has worked in the healthcare industry for 12 years and transitioned from a C-Suite Executive Assistant into a Corporate Recruiter after completing a psychology degree. Her recruiting experience includes working with small and large businesses focused on behavioral and performance based interviewing. In her spare time, she offers pro bono career advice/resume writing to job seekers, connecting candidates with hiring managers via social media. Connect with Monica.


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