Training Industry

What “Needs” Really Motivate People?

  • What “Needs” Really Motivate People?

Motivation is a powerful tool. In the hand of a manager, it can persuade, convince and propel individuals or teams to take action. There’s one caveat, however: You have to be motivated yourself in order to motivate others. The concept of motivation – think of employee engagement – is generally viewed in terms of staff who feel a strong emotional bond to their organization, demonstrate a willingness to recommend the organization to others, and commit time and effort to help the organization succeed.

In business, average performance is carried out at 70 percent of the available knowledge and energy of each member of employee. This means that there is a “secret” reserve of no less than 30 percent that managers can use. If this is true, and there is no reason to doubt it, it should be the challenge of every manager to mobilize this 30 percent.

Motivation is a basic aspect in every work situation. Managers fail simply because they do not understand others or they are taken up by their desire to satisfy their own needs, so that the needs of those whom they cooperate with are not a priority or are simply forgotten.

Money is often cited as a motivator. In reality it is, as Frederick Herzberg describes it, a hygiene factor that may only last a short time. So, let’s look in more detail at the needs that motivate employees.

The Fundaments: Acknowledgement, Appreciation and Promotion

Financial reward will often lead to a job with more responsibility. To help employees earn a promotion, managers must point out the concrete objectives that they must meet. Those objectives must be demanding and attainable. Managers must also make sure that the person in question wants this level of responsibility and also make a judgement call on whether, with training, coaching and development, they have the capability to undertake it.

The Work Itself

Team members can be satisfied by their work. If this is the case, managers should:

  • Give them more room to vary their working methods, including the order and pace
  • Not use too much supervision, but make clear to team members that they are responsible for the targets and standards
  • Give team members the information necessary for checking whether their work conforms to the requirements and how the manager plans to monitor their performance
  • Encourage the participation of team members in drawing up new action plans and applying different and innovative methods to push boundaries

Achievement Orientation

Certain individuals are achievement-oriented. They set themselves a moderately challenging problem to solve, with a moderate degree of risk, because they feel that their ability and effort will probably influence the outcome. Achievement-oriented employees seem to be more concerned with personal achievement than financial reward. They don’t reject the reward, but it is not as essential as the accomplishment itself.

Above all else, remember that a well-motivated team of average players can outperform a poorly motivated team of star players. Motivation really matters. Without it, it’s harder to complete projects and achieve objectives and performance targets.

Pat WellingtonPat Wellington is an internationally recognized management consultant who specializes in customer care, business development, team-building and personal effectiveness. Over 20 years of experience, she has facilitated assignments in blue chip organizations such as Canon and Coca Cola; health care providers, including the St. Martins and Nuffield Hospitals; United Nations agencies in Rome and Geneva; and government bodies in the U.K., the Gulf and southeast Asia. She is also the author of “Effective Customer Care” and the new “Effective People Management,” published by Kogan Page.

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