Employers want highly engaged employees. They value qualities such as persistence, being a self-starter, having a sense of accountability for and commitment to achieving results and being willing to go the extra mile on projects or to help other team members.
The problem is that many leaders don’t know how to boost or sustain such qualities and don’t understand that they themselves are an integral part in achieving it. An employer’s approach has a huge effect on employees’ drive and capacity to perform.
Good leadership is integral to high levels of employee engagement
One barrier to engagement is seeing compensation as the main or only option available to achieve high performance. But research shows that an employee’s day-to-day experience of work has a far bigger influence on their motivation than the compensation and benefits package.
There is a widespread, mistaken belief that leader’s capacity to motivate is limited to the intrinsic personal motivation of the employee. This means that when we consider an employee to be irredeemably unmotivated, we give up on trying to motivate him. A vicious cycle ensues, in which our attitude and behaviour elicit the response we expect from an unmotivated employee. It’s a damaging self-fulfilling prophecy and everybody loses out as a result.
Most employers start out well, but if performance or engagement lags, we experience frustration at the “unmotivated, entitled” employee.
Here’s a quote on a leadership article posted on the Harvard Business Review Facebook page: “As a leader, I started out caring very much about the emotional needs of staff. Unfortunately, all this brought about was overentitlement and making it OK to use your feelings to waste time and create a negative environment. I have evolved to care less about feelings and more about getting the work done. As long as my expectations are clear, people get paid, and they have a safe environment, there is no room for the rest of it in the workplace.”
This type of view is a common response but managers can - and should - learn to engage their teams, even those employees they find a bit challenging.
Try to see the bigger picture by putting yourself in your employee’s place. Develop curiosity about what the situation is like from the employee’s point of view. Seeing things from the employee’s perspective often opens up opportunities for engagement.
Use your previous experiences to your advantage. Who was the best boss you ever had? How did he or she make you feel (and why)? What did he or she do to earn your admiration? Adapt and use his or her motivational processes and make them work for you.
We know that without motivated employees we are far less likely to succeed. If we fail to see and appreciate our employees as whole people, efforts to motivate them will meet with limited success.
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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.
Copyright © 2017 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.
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