Motivation. The elusive Holy Grail of managers around the world. “Why aren’t my employees motivated?” “How can I motivate my employees?” “Why can’t I keep motivation going?” At least once a week I’m asked one of these questions by a caller, client, or workshop participant.
The Gallup organization estimates that disengaged, unmotivated workers cost businesses about $300 billion in profit every year. Despite the best efforts of leaders and managers alike, they’re failing miserably at “Employee Motivation,” and there’s one big reason- they’re operating from some long-held myths of motivation that just need to be busted!
Here are some of the most common myths I hear about employee motivation and the facts every leader, manager, and supervisor needs to know:
Myth #1: I can motivate my employees
This is perhaps the biggest motivation myth of all. The bottom line is- you can’t motivate another person! What you CAN do is to provide what is motivating to him or her. Leaders need to stop trying to motivate their employees by just randomly implementing incentives. What motivates you won’t necessarily motivate others. They only way you’ll know what motivates your employees is to sit down with each one of them and find out what motivates each person.
Myth #2: Money is a good motivator
There’s no doubt about it, there are some people whose primary motivator is money. However, once employees are able to make enough money to meet their basic needs (food, housing, clothing, etc.) they’re going to be looking for more.
Myth #3: Fear is a good motivator
Just like money, fear can be a good short-term motivator. However, most people don’t like to live and work in an environment of fear and will quickly try to get away from it. So if you want to increase turnover and drive away your employees, go ahead and try using fear as motivation.
Myth #4: Motivation is “One-Size-Fits-All”
If you think you’re going to motivate all your employees using the same thing, you have another thing coming. Employee motivation is as individual as the individual. Think about this, remember when you were a kid and your grandma or some other relative got you a “practical” gift for your birthday like socks or a sweater? Were you excited to receive it? Of course not. However, your grandma thought it was a great gift. That’s because grandma’s motivation was to keep you warm and to care for you, your motivation was to have fun. Get to know your employees and what they find motivational about their work or work environment, then provide it if you can.
Myth #5: Some employees don’t need to be motivated
No matter how great employees are or how successful, they only are because they’re motivated by something. Ignore your best employees and their motivation needs and they’ll quickly find someone else who meets them. Be sure you’re spending just as much time with your best employees as those you feel need a little “prodding.”
Myth #6: Some employees just aren’t motivated
Everyone is motivated by something. We wouldn’t get up off the couch if we didn’t have some motivation to do so. If you believe you have employees who aren’t motivated, it’s just because you haven’t taken the time to find out what it is, or you’re not in a position to provide it. This is a critical point to determine in the hiring process. If an employee is primarily motivated by something you’re never going to be able to provide, then he or she is probably not the “right fit” hire for you.
What other employee motivation myths have you heard? Comment and let me know!