It should go without saying that every company is only as good as its employees. And by extension, every employee is only as good as the company is allowing or facilitating that employee to be. In other words, keeping your staff’s morale at the highest possible levels should be a top priority. Nevertheless, this can be easier said than done.
There are two steps that need to be taken in order to produce the desired result. For starters, we will need to determine what holds your people back and then figure out how to remediate the problem. There is not one factor that is a catalyst for low morale in the workplace, and depending on the circumstances, each company may be dealing with its own individual issues. Among these motivation killers, we have things like a lack of proper internal communication, a bossy and overbearing manager, a lack of appreciation, one or more toxic co-workers, a lack of company vision, no possibility for self-improvement, etc.
Whatever the case, each of these factors will eventually lead to low morale and a lack of motivation. This, in turn, will result in friction between the employer and employee. And even though the staffers are skilled, competent, and capable, if there is a systemic lack of motivation present, those employees will need to be constantly pushed to do their job. This constant pressure is what’s known as friction, in this context, and it is a tremendous drain on your company’s resources – especially in terms of time and energy.
Performance = Ability + Knowledge – Interference
It should fall under every manager and/or owner to find and eliminate or remediate interferences and motivation killers in their company, reducing friction in the process. This will allow people to do their jobs without being pushed from behind. Minimizing or completely eliminating the interference variable from the equation above is the key to having your employees feel great about the job and be eager to come back in to do more.
In a study performed by Harvard Business School, entitled “What Really Motivates Workers,” hundreds of managers and employees were surveyed in order to determine, well, what really motivates workers. A disparity, however, appeared. While the managers said that “recognition for good work” was the most effective way to motivate people, the employees showed otherwise.
Instead of being asked directly, the staffers were requested to fill in a diary of their daily experiences at work. With over 12,000 of diary entries to work with, the research team was able to deduce that it was not the recognition that motivated them the most but the simple fact that they were making visible progress in their work, no matter how small or incremental.
In other words, managers can also minimize interference by setting new challenging goals for the employees to overcome, giving a more palpable sense of progress. In a different study, this time conducted by the University of Buffalo, it was discovered that these goals should be challenging enough to engage the employees but doable and not too arduous. Otherwise, these goals might have the adverse effect.
All companies have their own share of interferences that they are battling with. Some, however, are managing them and raising the staff’s morale better than others. Actively working to eliminate friction and keep the workforce eager for Monday should be on every manager’s mind.
Philip Uglow is the President of Renshi Consulting Group. Renshi lowers clients costs by pulling ideas from your people in the moment, when they are most busy with real work. This is when they learn. This is when they change.