What circumstances prompt your organisation to take a closer look at employee motivation and engagement? Have you conducted a staff survey that shows low engagement and motivation levels? Are there other issues such as falling productivity, reduced quality or an increase in sick leave?
These are all valid reasons for starting an employee motivation drive, and many organisations start programmes under these circumstances, but they are all missing the point!
Why organisations are missing the point
The problem is that most programmes are initiated when symptoms, such as increased staff attrition, appear and a scheme to improve it is suggested. That is where organisations miss the mark as they are left too busy trying to fix employee demotivation and disengagement after it has already occurred, instead of looking at the reasons it has occurred in the first place.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Part of the problem lies in the understanding of what actually motivates people. Many senior leaders still believe in traditional motivation programmes that focus purely on results: an approach that these days doesn’t necessarily yield the expected results. Some organisations still use an outdated ‘carrot and stick’ approach, which again doesn’t get results.
However the main problem is with the programmes themselves. And that’s because employees aren’t motivated and engaged by programmes, they’re engaged by interacting with other people. Which means that if you’re suffering from symptoms of demotivation and disengagement then your managers may well be a large part of the problem.
What you should be doing
You need to take action to continually drive motivation, rather than wait until you notice the symptoms of demotivation and disengagement, and a key area of focus should be on developing your line managers.
All too often talented employees are promoted into managerial positions and then not give the support they need to enable them to develop the soft skills to manage their team. As a result they are lacking in key skills that will enable them to: identify and understand team dynamics, encourage good relationships, develop and mentor key employees, delegate and motivate, deal with conflict, and make informed business decisions.
Whether a manager has been managing for a while or is new to the role it’s important that they get the support they need to continually develop and improve their managerial skills, not just their technical skills.
There are a number of different ways that organisations and HR professionals can support their managers:
- Provide them with a communication pack; this could include key messages about the company’s vision, values and goals, departmental information and key contacts throughout the organisation.
- Give managers the tools they need to manage such as an employee recognition and reward scheme.
- Give your managers guidelines on how to measure the performance of their team and how to address performance issues.
- Create a managerial mentor scheme where high-performing, experienced managers mentor newer managers and share their expertise.
- Have a 360 review (feedback on their performance from their team/direct reports) as part of the feedback from the manager’s manager to enables them to understand and improve their management style.
No matter what type of organisation you are in it’s the day-to-day motivation that makes a difference to employees’ engagement levels. Leaders convey the organisation’s vision, values and goals, but without good managers to encourage teams to achieve that corporate mission it will all count for nothing.