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Last Updated on August 5, 2021

How To Boost Employee Motivation During Difficult Times

How To Boost Employee Motivation During Difficult Times
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The way we experience our world is different. In 2019, people were looking to 2020 and beyond with hope. They were living in expectation that the previous year was closing and the new year would bring great things. Things like work promotions, new businesses started, new families, and vacations. Then the world suddenly stopped.

At the beginning of 2020, our generation faced a major pandemic. The coronavirus has completely turned our world upside down. The challenges that it brought have been many. People lost their lives. Businesses were closed. The general population was divided on the science behind how to move forward. We have faced countless roadblocks on the journey towards a new normal.

The level of struggle and challenge has killed employee motivation. The perspective has shifted. The world’s mentality went from a mindset that encouraged people to chase their dreams to one that tells the same people that they are lucky to be working at all.

The new perspective doesn’t raise employee motivation. Employees now have to learn how to operate long-held positions under new rules and regulations. If anything, employee motivation is in danger of falling. That is why leaders, managers, and business owners must begin to think about employee motivation and morale.

During times of challenge and uncertainty, the focus must shift to finding ways to motivate your employees and staff. The health of your organization depends on it. One thing I know, in the 20 years of leadership experience, is that when employee motivation is up the business thrives. There is a direct correlation between employee motivation and productivity. As you know, when a company is productive, it is efficient. When the business is efficient, it is growing and profitable. The best investment a leader can make is developing a way to motivate their employees as it determines the health and wellbeing of the whole company.

What is Employee Motivation?

This article will define employee motivation as the activities that energize employees to perform at their best.

The goal of every organization should be to motivate their employees to the point where they are the most productive and efficient. When your employee wins everyone wins.

The temptation is to focus on everything else over employee motivation. There will always be looming issues. Creating leads, follow-up, fulfillment, and many others are always in need of your attention. What if I told you that if you take care of those who take care of the systems, then your business will run at a higher performance level.

Instead of focusing 100 perfect of your time and effect perfection systems and procedures, spend time investing in employee motivation. When the person you hired is highly motivated, they are highly productive.

Always invest in the greatest asset of your company which is its people.

There are two terms used to describe the types of motivation. Those are intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic

Intrinsic motivation

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is a term for self-motivation. It is the ability to motivate oneself based on an internal compass. This compass points towards a goal, by completion, will give the person a sense of accomplishment. The accomplishment is rewarding within itself. There is no need for any external reward. The intrinsically motivated person will build their motivation based on an internal reward system.

The ideal is that our employees are intrinsically motivated. When you have an employee motivated by self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction, little to no extra pushing or inspiration will be required. Having an intrinsically motivated employee is incredibly valuable. All the motivation they will ever need will not come from you but from within themselves.

Extrinsic

Extrinsic motivation

is the other term used for employee motivation. Where intrinsic motivation is internal, extrinsic motivation is external. Extrinsic motivation is where the employee is motivated by an external reward. Also, it is essential to note that extrinsically motivated employees are not only motivated by the promise of reward; they are also motivated by the threat of punishment.

Employees who are extrinsically motivated are best motivated when they know a reward is waiting upon completing the task. The reward could be a pay raise or something as simple as a cup of coffee from their favorite cafe.

Think about a child who is of school age. Typically, the student will go to school and work hard to attain good grades. The intrinsically motivated student will be happy knowing that they achieved the desired grade. The extrinsically motivated student is different. They are not satisfied with getting a good grade. They are motivated by what they receive for getting good grades.

The same dynamics can be applied when thinking about employee motivation. The intrinsically motivated employee will be happy the task was complete. If the task met their standards, knowing they did a job well done will be enough. However, knowing it was a job well done may not be enough for the extrinsically motivated employee. The extrinsically motivated person will be more interested in what they get or avoid by finishing the job. If they avoid punishment, reprimands, or coaching sessions, then the extrinsically motivated person is happier. If the extrinsically motivated person gains a tangible outcome, then they will be ecstatic. The extrinsically motivated individual lives for two things. To gain pleasure (rewards) and avoid pain.

Many more employees are extrinsically motivated than there are intrinsically motivated ones.

What Kills Motivation?

Before we jump into discussing ways of motivating your employees, let’s take a moment and discuss what kills motivation. I find that understanding the roadblocks helps us become aware of them so that we might remove them.

1. Micromanaging

Micromanagement

is a form of mistrust. For the micromanager, the process of micromanaging others is all about control. The more you control, the safer you feel. However, the greater control you exert the more your employees feels mistrusted, mistreated, and undervalued. When your employees feel like this, their motivation drops and the business suffers.

How would you feel if someone was watching your every move? What would you think if the leader didn’t delegate work, became overly involved with your work, and discouraged you from making decisions? Would you feel motivated if the leader decided to look at every detail, demanded regular updates, and wanted to be cc’d on every email? If that doesn’t motivate you, then realize it will kill all employee motivation within your organization.

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2. Lack of Systems and Structure

Lamar University defines structure as:[1]

“the formal system of task and reporting relationships that controls, coordinates, and motivates employees so that they cooperate to achieve an organization’s goals.”

Structure and systems tells employees who does what, who answers to who, and how things are meant to be accomplished. These are super important to building motivation.

Effective, efficient, and motivated employees are birthed from solid structures and systems. The purpose of such systems is to create a work environment that builds motivation and promotes productivity. The lack of systems and structure is one of the fastest ways to demotivate employees. When the employee lives in multiple levels of complexity because there isn’t a straightforward system, it will increase the stress level. As the stress level rises, the employee’s motivation falls.

3. Unclear Expectations

It is important to note that we all carry expectations on how things should work. Where we struggle is in how effectively we communicate those expectations to those we interact with. In truth, there is a high percentage of leaders who call people to a high level of expectation without ever sharing what that level is.

Millions of employees have to live to a standard that they are unclear how to achieve. You cannot achieve what you do not know. If the expectations are not clearly defined and communicated, the employee will never meet those expectations.

The most motivated employees are those who know where the target is. When an organization carries high expectations that are never communicated, the employee is positioned for failure. If I were an employee who knew that there was no way to win, I would be demotivated entirely and ultimately look for a new position elsewhere.

10 Motivating Factors for Employees

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but I wanted to highlight some of the top factors that increase employee motivation.

1. Job Security

In the current cultural climate, job security ranks high. In 2020, a high percentage of businesses shut their doors, laid-off employees, and downsized general operations. The few employees who were able to go virtual were blessed. However, a large number of people moved from a job they loved to being gainfully unemployed. With that in mind, when an employee finds an excellent place to work that promotes job security, they are motivated to do what they can to keep their job.

2. Being Recognized for Their Work

Being recognized at work is a critical factor that will increase employee motivation. Deep inside every employee is the desire to be seen as someone who does an excellent job. When they are privately and publicly recognized for their work, it keeps them showing and motivates them to go to the next level.

3. A Healthy Work Environment

Toxic work environments demotivate employees. On the flip side, a healthy environment boosts morale and keeps people showing up. Take a look at google. They have an environment that promotes enthusiasm, community, and fun. Google’s environments promote high performance by focusing on removing stress. In return, the employee shows up refreshed, highly motivated, and ready to work. There is a lot of power in an environment that promotes health.

4. Career Advancement

Employees want to know that there are options for them to advance. Working a “dead-end” job demotivates employees because it tells them that there is no chance for them to be more than they are at that moment. Want to motivate people? Invite them to express their purpose, give them a clear path of growth, and you will have one highly motivated employee.

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5 . Good Wages

Employees want to take care of their self-interests. Whether they are single or support a family, the employee will be highly motivated when they know that they are earning enough to live a comfortable life. The greater the pay level they can achieve, the more they will be motivated, and the harder they will work.

6. Set Smaller Goals

Your organization should have a 5 or 10-year business plan that depicts trends, goals, and markers for success. The most outstanding leaders can take long-range goals and break them up into small achievable milestones. Each milestone is a stepping stone towards the bigger goal, but instead of pushing to the long term, we focus on the short term.

Quick wins are potent reminders of the quality of work that is accomplished. What people need to get and stay motivated is a series of quick wins. Not only does it motivate your employees, but it builds their confidence.

Now, more than ever, we must focus on short term stability instead of long term growth. It is in the short term where the organization is established. You will need quick wins that create highly motivated employees that will push the vision further along.

7. Be Transparent

Transparency

produces trust. The more an employee can trust you, the greater motivation it will build. The openness at which you are sharing information is crucial for creating clarity, certainty, and trust. When employees feel out of the loop, they become uncertain. The more uncertain an employee is, the less motivated they are. It is important to note that when you lack transparency, you will loose employee motivation and trust. Ultimately, when an organization loses faith, it isn’t long before they close its doors.

The best way to be transparent is through regular communication. I do not believe that most organizations communicate well enough. If you cannot communicate well enough, you will have a platform to be transparent. Learn the science and art of communication. Invest in learning how to talk with people and not at people. Then take that knowledge and build relationships where you have the right to speak into their lives while being transparent in front of them.

8. Motivate Individuals Rather Than the Team

It is common to focus on “team” building and motivation. This focus can be the product of a leadership culture that focuses on “we” instead of “me.” It can also be a product of a time-sensitive leader who uses team motivation to get the job done, motivate his staff, and save time in the process. Interestingly, people love being part of a team, but they also love when they get personalized attention. There is something special when your leader takes time to build you up personally instead of a group activity.

Lean into a time where you can spend one-to-one coaching with your employee. Encourage the employee, give them pointers about growth, and acknowledge their contribution. Help them see the value they bring. When you do this, you will find that your employee will become highly motivated. A highly motivated employee will begin to inspire and motivate all the other employees within their circle.

9. Learn What Makes Each Employee Operate

To be known is a deep desire of humanity. Inside each of us that secretly wishes someone could see us for who we are and not just what we bring to the talent table. One of the best ways to dramatically increase employee motivation is through learning their personality types.

DISC, MBTI, and Enneagram all offer valuable insights that can be leveraged for growth, motivation, and alignment. Having your employee walk through an indicator then taking time to get to know the person behind the personality will instantly increase motivation.

Each personality has something they long for and specific ways they connect. Taking the time to learn and unpack each personality type is a gateway into a bond of loyalty that will drive motivation for years to come.

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10. Be Inclusive

If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it is that people desire to be included. Each movement was an outcry saying, “we have been forgotten.” If people are starting these movements nationally, you can bet that they are happening within your company’s ecosystem. Instead of fearing the conversation, learn to engage in it. I do not believe that people need you to agree with them. I think that people want to feel as if they have been listened to and heard.

Being included is directly linked to employee motivation. If a person does not feel heard or included, this lack of connection has serious ramifications. Not being included can lead to loneliness, depression, anger, and detachment. You and I both know that if an individual is going through the gambit of these emotions, they will lack the motivation to do their tasks and build the organization with you.

A fundamental human right and dignity is to be included. We must ensure that we include our fellow employees regardless of religion, political belief, or lifestyle choice. When we learn how to include others and help them feel like they have been heard, we will instantly have a loyal follower motivated to help us build the organization.

A connected person is a healthy person, and a healthy person is a motivated person.

Bottom Line

There is no secret to motivating others. The truth about motivating employees is found in the simplistic idea that if we help them achieve their goals, they will be inspired to help us reach ours.

It all starts with you. How you show up for your people and leadership will determine the trajectory of your business. If you show you care, give your employees your time, and invest in them, they will find the motivation to keep moving your goals along towards completion.

Learning how to motivate your employees properly is by recognizing them as people who care about life, have goals and dreams, and are working for you as a means to achieve their heart’s desire. Facilitate that. Help them win. Do what we talked about in this article, and you will quickly start seeing a turnaround in your organization. You will see your employees move from just being there to being highly present and motivated employees ready to conquer the tasks at hand.

Remember, everything begins and ends with people.

If you desire to lead well, motivate your employees, and build your dream, you must start and end with a heart and focus that invests in people.

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Allan Dib

Rebellious Marketer, Serial Entrepreneur, Business Coach, and #1 Bestselling Author

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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