Motivation and performance

“How do I motivate my team?!”

A questions I have been asked a lot recently and a question which I have been ruminating

It appears that this is a topic on many peoples minds, I google it today and it appears that there are 10,700,000 results to that question WOW!

Which got me thinking – “Why is this such a popular question and why is it such a seemingly complex topic which requires 10 million + potential solutions?”

Below I will give my view on why its a popular question and why its a seemingly complex topic to answer, AND, I will share a few factors leaders should take into account when asking the same question :0)

Why is this such a popular question?

I imagine its down to the following (simplified)- The world of business is changing at a furious rate! Globalisation of business, the rapid and rather frankly scary assault of technology and A.I, limitation of available talent and push for cheaper goods and services means that leaders need to get more out of their teams without ideally paying more. Motivation is therefor the key

Why is this such a complex topic?

When you talk about motivation you are really talking about needs and emotions; two subjects which on the surface seem easy to compute – “I need to be recognised” and “I cry when I get upset” (I really do) – but are really as intangible as “the ether in which our world floats” (source: Think and Grow Rich, introduction page 26) don’t know if that works but love the expression :0)

The reason for this? No two people are alike, most people aren’t truly aware of their needs, and most people aren’t honest when it comes to sharing what they truly need (this is often caused by poor experiences and/or not knowing how to share honestly as well as  a host of other drivers that impact this behavior)

As a leader, how do I make this less complex?

You’ll be glad to know that its actually a lot easier than it appears. All you need is to understand a few fundamentals of  motivational theory. Once you grasp these fundamentals its only requires a few steps to create an action plan (I can help you with this). I’ve done the hard work and studies up on the motivational theory and distilled it in way that is easy to understand.

Note – There are many theories to draw from and I have selected two (Vrooms Expectancy theory and Hertzbergs Two Factor Theory) Why these two? Because I’ve found that they explain in the simplest way what drives people, whilst at the same time providing a framework against which to start creating a motivational plan. They also fit other theories into them which creates validity. With all that said, lets take a look at the fundamentals of motivation

Fundamentals of motivation

In order for an organisation to grow consistently and profitably it is essential that all members of the team are purposefully productive and high performers. Productivity and Performance are the result of two factors:

Motivation “The desire to take a specific action” + Ability “The necessary talent, skill or proficiency to successfully complete a critical task or activity”.

As a business leader – to whose benefit it is that workplace productivity and performance is maximised at all times – It is important to be aware of the following from the outset

  1. Although ability is critical to performance, once a satisfactory level of ability has been established, it is motivation (will and a deep burning desire) to reach for ‘greatness’ that will always determine the level of productivity and performance
  2. Motivation is impacted by a number of factors including but not limited to:
    1. The need value. If the need is more an “I would like” or “I wish” than “I cannot do without” then the individual will be less likely to put effort into achieving the need
    2. The reward value. If the reward is not perceived to fulfil the need, the individual will be less likely to put effort into achieving the need
    3. The achievement value. If the perceived effort required to achieve the need are greater (pain) than the need being fulfilled (gain) they will not put in the effort.
    4. The effort for performance value. If they do not believe that the required effort will result in the desired performance, effort will dwindle.
    5. Reward for performance value. if the person does not believe that their performance will be rewarded favourably then performance will dwindle
    6. The Environment. The feel of the workplace (physical and emotional environment) which creates ‘the culture’. Note: Although these environmental factors have very little impact on motivation (and if they do example pay they are short term [see Adams Equity Theory]. Environmental impactors  include but are not limited to
      1. Job title
      2. Job security
      3. Pay
      4. Rewards
      5. Work conditions
      6. Benefits
    1. Needs typically fall into the following types
      1. Recognition (for work well done)
      2. Growth (as a person or as a professional)
      3. Challenge (difficulty of work)
      4. Contribution (A bigger purpose)
      5. Responsibility (sense of ownership)
      6. Belonging (importance to organisation)
      7. Flexibility
    2. The biggest contributors to poor environment are lack of clarity (people do not know the part they are playing and what is expected of them) and standards (challenging but attainable goals are not set and people are not held accountable for the delivery of their commitments. there is an inconsistency in the application of standards)
    3. Leadership as the authority has the biggest influence on the environment

That’s as simple as it gets

How do you keep your teams engaged to ensure maximum performance and productivity?


Words of Wisdom: Standards and expectations

When you set your leadership expectations high, winners stretch to the challenge; whiners stretch away from the challenge


Words of Wisdom: Business Leadership

True Business Leaders take something of low productivity and turn it into something of high productivity



Words of Wisdom: Accelerate Success

When you involve the organisation every day in defining the required actions, You increase the capability to manage and accelerate success in the chosen area