Before managers start thinking of how to motivate their employees, they should clearly realize two facts. Fact one is that motivation comes from within and employees have to motivate themselves. The managerial responsibility is to create an environment where employees can motivate themselves. Fact two is that sincerity is the key. Employees can see through insincere, manipulative actions and this nullifies the impact of those actions.
What is the Importance of Employee Motivation?
Why go to all the trouble of motivating employees? They are paid to do their work and must do it (or else get fired). This kind of approach is common and is often the result of the manager’s own stressed work (and life) conditions.
The approach mentioned above is wasteful of high-value human resources of an organization. Employees fearful of being sacked will typically work only to the minimum level that keeps them safe. They will not try to improve productivity by, say pointing out better ways that work can be carried out.
Productivity is greatly affected by what is happening on the shop floor. Time is consumed not only in regular production operations on the floor; every defective product necessitates time to rework it; and inefficient methods of doing work take more time to produce the same result. The consequent fall in productivity is in addition to the cost of rejected materials, machine time costs for rework and overheads incurred for the extra time.
Compare this with an environment where employees are enthusiastic about their work and committed to the organization. Such enthusiasm typically comes from an environment where good work is recognized and rewarded, and where there is a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. In such an environment, employees are very likely to come up with ideas and innovations for improving productivity or customer satisfaction, or for cost reduction or even for new products.
It is in the above scenario that motivation becomes important. It avoids wasting the human resources of the organization and instead helps tap the full potential of that resource.
Employee Engagement and not Employee Management
Most employees start their career with great enthusiasm, hoping to accomplish much. Studies reveal that this enthusiasm begins to wane in the first six months and continues its decline through the career. In such a context, the real goal is to avoid de-motivating the employees. This goal requires both right organizational policies and right communication style on the part of individual managers.
Employees typically hope to accomplish much. Allow them to do that, and organize things in such a way that their work contributes to the goals of the organization. This last issue requires attention to job design and training issues. In fact, by letting employees train themselves through such resources as the one mentioned at Organization and the individual, excellent results are possible.
Individual managers perform best when they focus on employee
engagement instead of on employee management. Motivation is heightened when employees feel that they are recognized as individuals and their contributions are recognized. Engage with the employees and understand them as individuals, their particular motivations as well as the things they need to perform well.
Such engagement helps managers understand what employees need to work well, and also how to reward good performance in ways that motivate the individual employee. Additionally, it also provides the opportunity for employees to bring issues on the ground to the attention of managers. They might even be able to suggest small changes that can produce big results.
Yet another key requirement is development of self-managed teams. Studies have revealed that when people work in teams, problems are solved better than when they work as individuals. Additionally, most people like camaraderie at the workplace. Team members can feel highly motivated when they work together in a team with clear and challenging goals.
The task of managers is to create such teams and act as facilitators to help the team organize what is needed to perform. They will engage with individual employee to help the person become a productive team member. They will also engage with the team as a whole to understand what it needs to achieve goals.
Employee motivation can produce concrete business results in the forms of higher productivity and creativity. Motivation requires that managers engage on a one-on-one basis with each person who reports to them. It also requires that the employee receives respect and that even small contributions are reinforced through recognition. Teams that work well together can also improve motivation in a big way.