Have you ever noticed that when you work on a task you find exciting, you're more invested in the outcome? For this reason, motivated employees lead to a higher chance of company success and retention. A deep investment in your work not only leads to more successful outcomes but also higher morale because you find enjoyment in the work you're doing. In fact, 73% of employees would look to leave employers who don't provide a motivating and stimulating work environment. The challenge in motivating employees is that different types of tasks, environments, priorities, and rewards work for different people. And sometimes, these preferences are not visible at the surface-level. To help you break down the complexities of balancing the different personalities on your team, we've outlined three easy ways to motivate your employees at an individual level.
1. Connect Your People with Your Purpose
One way to motivate employees in the workplace is through your company's overarching purpose. If a top-level organizational mission doesn't come to mind, the ultimate first step is to create one. If your company has an established mission, ensure you've clearly communicated your organization's vision and values to your team. Be sure to hold your employees accountable in their everyday work to contribute towards that vision and values. For example, at Birkman, our overarching goal is to empower people, performance, and workplace relationships by providing our customers with tools to better understand themselves and the people with whom they work. While it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind of task-completion and priority management, thinking back to that goal of helping improve the workforce communicate better helps us re-align and focus on why we're doing each project or task. Maintaining your mission as your focal point can help teams remove tasks that don't align with our overall purpose and prioritize the many tasks that do.
Ensuring that your company is full of engaged employees that invest in the success of your mission starts at the hiring level. Hire people that will adapt and align with your company's purpose to improve morale and retention. Make your mission apparent throughout the organization by finding ways to make it present in your everyday work life. Screen savers, signage, and printed materials, and verbal reminders are some of the ways you can do this.
2. Use Interests to Harness Motivation
It makes sense that it's much easier to work on tasks that we find rewarding that align with our preferences. Our interests have a significant impact on what we choose to focus on and how we converse at work. For example, if you have a high interest in numbers, you would likely prioritize tasks that involve statistics, data, or financials. You're likely comfortable working in spreadsheets and see numerical data as energizing. You might linger on numerical data and strategic decision-making in meetings. On the other hand, someone who is interested in artistic elements might quickly lose interest in tasks with complete emphasis on numbers and would be more driven by data presented in a visually interesting way such as a chart or infographic. Simple adaptations in the way you present and communicate information can reach different people in significant ways. Similarly, altering your communication style to speak in ways that engage your employees can allow them to remain invested in all the necessary elements of their role.
It's essential to understand what your talent finds exciting to keep them motivated in their daily role and uphold any company's overall performance. While every position has elements and tasks that won't align with the interests of each employee, it's possible to approach projects from different angles that inspire who's involved. Let's go back to the example above. While numerical data is vital in almost every role to make strategic decisions, you can change the way you present information to drive meaning and inspiration for different people. Spreadsheets work well for some, while an infographic or a powerful image with a message containing a single statistic might hit home for others. Using these different methods will show you're invested in your employees' wellbeing and give them a boost of energy to work through the less-than-thrilling tasks on their plate.
Interests also impact how we communicate and sometimes become the cause of disagreement or conflict at work. Let's look at another example to understand how this plays out. An employee who values social service will go into conversations with the primary goal of benefiting the lives of others in some shape or form. Because of this filter, they might direct meetings toward solving problems for colleagues or clients. Employees with this interest will push for results that impact others. Since they care for the wellbeing of people, they will likely also be the person in meetings asking how people are doing and bringing a social aspect even to meetings that are more practical by nature. A different employee who highly values technical elements of projects will probably bring a more direct and practical approach to meetings and conversations. They will focus less on the lives that business decisions impact and more on technological or systematic implications. These different ways of approaching a project can lead to possible conflict, even if the two employees have the same goal in mind. Each team member has the potential of feeling disrespected by the other because it might look like each person does not care about the motivators of others. 42% of individuals cited different communication styles are the most frequent cause of miscommunication. By merely understanding the values and interests of your coworkers and employees, you can reduce the chance of these miscommunications turning into unproductive conflict.
3. Understand Work Environment Preferences
We tend to produce more successful output and offer more innovative ideas when we feel comfortable. There are a few ways to create a work environment that connects with each of your employees without completely submitting to their needs or changing your entire structure. There are three environment preferences to think about to increase employee engagement.
Reward and Recognition
The first is to reward and recognize employees in ways that resonate with their preferred work style. While some people find motivation through outward praise, recognition, and kudos, others will shy away from public attention and prefer one-on-one recognition. Understand where your employees fall on this spectrum to provide feedback and encouragement in a way that will resonate more and motivate them.
Pace of Work
Employees will also vary in their preference for the pace of their work. Some employees will prefer to work on tasks involving more thought, brainstorming, or social interaction. Others will naturally enjoy administrative tasks, task-completion, and process-based tasks. Find out the types of projects that stimulate each person and allow them to have time blocked off each day or week to work on assignments in that field. Making them the owner of those project types will also increase their productivity. For example, if you have an employee who needs structure and process, assign them as the head of the team's calendars, spreadsheets, and organizational tasks. If an employee prefers time to think, let them block off an hour or so each week allotted to processing or creative thinking. These small, strategic changes can go a long way to keeping employees engaged.
Team Communication Style
A final way to motivate an individual to perform at their highest potential is to create a communication style that supports the function of your team while suiting the personality styles that make up your team. Every individual has preferences for how others communicate with them. Some employees will want direct and clear instructions, and others will prefer more flexibility. Assertive feedback will point some people in the right direction while demotivating others. Recognize what puts a spark in your team members when you speak to them in different ways. Small adjustments to communication can quickly shift an individual's mindset in both a positive or negative way.
Choosing channels of communication is also something to consider. Think about whether your team works best using frequent in-person meetings, over email, or through an instant communication tool. Again, even elements of work that appear minor can play a significant role in stimulating and motivating your workforce.
How We Help
When people get to work on the things that naturally interest them, their energy is revived. Incorporating employee's interests is a powerful way to motivate employees, even when the pressure is high. Birkman helps teams discover the different preferences and interests of each team member to form the culture that breeds productivity. Our personality assessment tools help you understand where people might provide more value, how they'll feel energized and motivated, and where and why behavior turns unproductive. Connect with us to start motivating your employees on an individual level, and watch productivity soar.