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The Very Basics of Employee Motivation You Are Missing

The lack of understanding around employee motivation is astounding. And I am talking about the basics here.


The other day managers and leaders were quite upset telling me "I train my employees but they don't care. They are not engaged and motivated." To which I just replied, "Because training is not a motivational factor." They looked at me going from being frustrated to being confused.


I went back to the basics. Literally!


I talked about Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory, which clearly outlines some of the elements that don’t motivate if present, but their absence demotivates, such as reasonable salary, working conditions, training required for doing the job, relationships, and quality of supervisors/managers.


On the other hand, a sense of achievement, recognition, personal and professional growth, and responsibility are the factors that motivate us (Motivating Factors), none of which is included in engagement action plans.


In summary, improving motivating factors increases job satisfaction and engagement. Improving Hygiene Factors (pay, status, security, working conditions, benefits, policies, and relationships) decreases job dissatisfaction but doesn’t motivate. It must be present for baseline satisfaction and a functioning workplace, but their presence will not motivate or engage.


Ok, let's give it a context. Hygiene factors are the minimum expected by employees. Their presence is the expected norm but they will not be happy and motivated by it. I am sure you have noticed that nobody is interested in leadership and management until there is a problem with them. Having good managers and leaders and functioning relationships with them is the basic. If it is not present we immediately start talking about it. The same applies to training. Providing training that enables the person to do the job is the minimum requirement and one of the reasons supervisors and managers are hired. It is not motivating.


Motivating factors are those that go beyond the factors that are required for a functional and well-performing team. They look to the future and are adding to employees. They add reward, recognition, responsibility or qualification to their professional and personal growth. It includes well-planned promotion which is why succession planning is important yet so poorly done. Read here how to do it. And yes, it includes training but training that enables career development.

So, if you are organising pizza parties, outings or doughnut Fridays to help supervisors, managers or leaders build better relationships with their teams or wanting to solve conflicts within the team you are not motivating anyone. You are working on the minimum basic that is expected. You are just laying the foundation of your house. Because let's be honest, when a place is dysfunctional that's a problem.

If you are providing training that is required to the get job done you are not motivating your staff. This is the minimum you must do for them to perform.


Now, write a list of things that you are busy doing to motivate and engage your team and see where are you operating. Are you laying the foundation or building the walls and the roof?




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