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How do I motivate my team? It’s a complex question because human beings are complicated. Our motivational drivers are influenced by DNA, age, gender, socio-economic status, and culture, just to name a few. So, to presume one motivational strategy will successfully engage each member of your team underestimates the complexity of the human psyche.
If we take a step back and look at the three components of motivation we know they are: Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose1. These needs are controlled by the Neo-Cortex, which exists in higher-order mammals and evolved about 40,000 years ago. When we apply these three components to an employee’s conscious, here is what they may sound like:
This means that even though we all have different preferences, all human beings will be motivated, to some degree, by these three components. If you want your employees to be engaged, you need to create opportunities for these three needs to be met.
Here are some examples of ways to meet these needs:
Mastery – Offer formal development programs, mentoring, reverse mentoring, job shadowing, and give them the opportunity to work on stretch assignments.
Autonomy – Give employees the space to succeed and fail. Know when to let them make decisions on their own, and when to get involved. Don’t give them all the answers; rather offer guidance and steer them toward the right path but allow them to arrive at conclusions on their own.
Purpose – People need to know why they do what they do. It’s the responsibility of leaders to clearly define and regularly connect their team member’s work with a purpose. This can be achieved by communicating how an employee’s work impacts the bottom line, how it contributes to accomplishing the organization’s goals, or it can be as simple as how an individuals work makes someone else’s life easier.
1 Pink, Daniel H. Drive – The Surprising Truth about what motivates us. United States: Riverhead Hardcover, 2009. Print.