Alison Hill (pictured below) is a psychologist and co-founder and CEO of Pragmatic Thinking, a behaviour and motivation strategy company. She is the best-selling co-author of Dealing with the Tough Stuff and Stand Out: A real world guide to get clear, find purpose and become the boss of busy. In this guest post, Hill offers top tips to motivate yourself (and staff) to turn your working day from chore to perk…
When it comes to motivating people at work there are multiple reward and incentive systems that have been tried and tested. Ultimately though each of these strategies come back to either a carrot or a stick approach. How can we deter certain behaviours and how do we reward and encourage more of other behaviours?
Both extrinsic and intrinsic reward systems are handy tools, but they are not the foundation for excellent work performance; certainly not in a rapidly changing work environment. The ultimate game is to make work itself rewarding. The act of engaging in the task, the challenge of connecting with others, and the success that comes from figuring it out become the drive behind action; a game individual’s choose to play. Motivational science points strategies to enjoy the process along the way.
So how do you make work the perk? The following are five key tips to shifting the motivational drivers:
- Know them
The people you work with that is. This requires an investment of time and energy to connect with others and yes it can feel like it will take more time than you’ve got the capacity for at the moment, but if the only time we interact is transactional and not relational it’s impossible to truly understand the motivational drivers about why people come to work. Start by asking the question, ‘what drives you to come to work?’.
- Make progress the priority
Motivation and having a strong sense of progress is intricately linked. In key conversations, interactions, projects, and products you are shifting make progress the ultimate priority. War against anything that is a bottleneck to progress. Continue to ask the question ‘what’s next?’.
- Create feedback rich environments
Formal feedback cycles that happen at best every six months halt progress and undermine the intrinsic motivation for the work. Commit to regular, in-the-moment feedback. Call it out early, encourage others to have the key conversations and be prepared to be on the receiving end of these conversations too.
- Get personal
Given we spend a third of our lives at work it’s not the place to put aside our humanity. In fact the top organisations across the globe now recognise that personal development trumps professional development. When we allow work to be the place where we grow personally, where we become better human beings then not only do we want to keep coming back, the people we love the most will be pushing us out the door to get to work.
- Autonomy in celebration
Give yourself and others the autonomy to both define and celebrate the wins along the way. Sure there are still celebrations that matter in the life of the team or the organisation, and it’s also important to have an outlet for others to celebrate their own wins. These don’t have to be extravagant but they can’t require a five-page submission to execute. High-fives in the hallway can go a long way.