Magazine article Talent Development

Creating a Culture of Motivation

Magazine article Talent Development

Creating a Culture of Motivation

Article excerpt

With no end in sight, the "jobless recovery" of 2011 means that managers everywhere are facing ambitious productivity demands with the leanest teams in decades. Motivating people is a perennial management challenge, but in times like these it's up to learning professionals to ensure that motivation is given more than just lip service

This starts with providing managers the training and skills they need to effectively motivate people to consistently perform at their best. This is especially important for young managers, who often report that keeping staff motivated is among the most challenging of their new responsibilities.

As always, the first job of HR is to educate. Informing your managers about the benefits of a motivated staff will inspire them to want to become better at motivating others. Research shows that managers who are effective at motivating their direct reports reap the reward of employees who can handle a variety of assignments, work more autonomously, report higher levels of job satisfaction, and contribute more to the success of the department, the organization, and in return, to the success of their manager.

Plus, when you get your managers to assume more responsibility for motivating, they start to think beyond getting the job done today and begin considering what their people will need to be effective one, two, and five years from now. This big-picture thinking does more than keep employees happy, it helps keep the talent pipeline full, staff more agile, and the organization ready and able to meet constantly shifting market demands.


Helping your managers become better motivators is the first step to creating a culture of motivation. It is up to learning professionals to ensure that motivation is given more than just lip service.

Get reacquainted with staff

A manager's first priority is making sure that each employee is in the job best suited to her skill set and professional aspirations. This means taking the time to get to know his people. This can be a challenge for those managers who naturally focus more on the job than on the person doing it.

When employees feel that managers care more about the work than about them, they may feel insignificant. Equally, when an employee feels that his manager is as concerned about him as he is about the work, he is far more likely to display trust that is characteristic of high-performing companies.

In addition, when managers take the time to create this sense of trust among employees, they gain invaluable insight into what motivates each employee. What motivates one person may do nothing for another.

If a manager really knows his people, he will know that while Joe may feel recognized by being assigned as the manager of a large project, Jane might feel more achievement from a more hands-on role in producing the end result. Having this individual knowledge is critical for a manager to be able to effectively motivate. Here are some activities managers can use to get to know his people and discover what motivates them:

Encourage people to ask questions about their current assignments. A person with lots of questions probably needs more input, while a person with few questions probably needs less. When people feel matched to their responsibilities, they are more likely to be more motivated and perform at their best.

Re-read resumes of employees. Become reacquainted with the skills and weakness of each person in the team. This will enable managers to better mentor workers in their personal development while also better using their skills for the success of the department and the organization.

Take time to listen. Ask people: "Where do you want to be in five years?" Really listen to their answers. It is surprising how much people can learn from each other during a brief exchange.

Network with staff. When managers know the strengths of their people, they can connect individuals to others who can help them do a better job, and everyone benefits. …

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