Part 4: Essentials of Supervision - What keeps you motivated?

Whoever you are - whether you are a salaried professional (white-collar workers), in a service sector or a manual laborer, there is always one motivating factor that would keep you dedicated to your job. And whether it is passion, enthusiasm or dedication, people want to be motivated and companies want motivated people working for them. A highly motivated workforce is more likely to live with the culture of the company, support the core values and respond positively to change. Motivation lessens, if not eliminates, the problematic people - those that are whiners, rebels and demoralized.

Before continuing reading the content of this post, take a moment to assess and ask yourself this question - what really keeps you motivated at work? What is it that satisfies your compelling personal need?

During our Essentials of Supervision training, our speaker undertook and tried making us understand more about what really motivates people at work - by asking us to tell him our motivating factor in own words before he continued discussing the real motivators. The results, monetary values (e.g. incentives, compensation, bonus), recognition, self-development came as the top three.

I remember I had this interview once when I was asked what keeps me motivated and I said 'recognition'. And consistent enough, when I was engaged to assessing myself, I could not think of anything that would highly motivate me except having to feel appreciated and respected for the work I do, simply because I also take pride in what I do. Of course, the compensation is a factor but it only comes second to me, the keys to doing well on the job is not necessarily based on pay alone.

People must feel motivated to do a good job and go the extra mile at work. And motivation effort is exerted thru the managers, supervisors, leads. The question how one can keep an employee motivated?

First, let's define what is 'motivation'. It is a process in which leaders influence individuals' and teams' behavior by connecting to inner needs and desires.1

Now, you cannot motivate people if you yourself is not motivated. And that is the first rule of the process: You will never inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. Only a motivated leader can motivate others1. Second, before you can motivate someone, you need to know what motivates him/her specifically. Note that employees in an organization follow instructions only for a very selfish reason: to satisfy a compelling personal need. A leader's task is to find a way by which the job itself can satisfy them1.

Here's how1:
  1. Recognize individual differences - each person has different motivating factor
  2. Match people to jobs - so they could improve their skills
  3. Use goals to motivate - but don't give them goal that is too easy
  4. Individual rewards - if somebody is doing well, he/she is entitled for a reward
  5. Link rewards to performance
  6. Be fair
  7. Don't ignore money, but don't overestimate its power
  8. Do not underestimate the power of 'recognition'

Some pointers I was able to extract during the training's open discussions:
  1. Recognize one in public
  2. But always keep recognition and salary discussion distinct or separate. Otherwise, it will be transactional.
  3. Never ever promise a salary increase or a promotion. It is not in your power to totally guarantee it.
  4. Favoritism-issue. Whether you don't have a favorite, your team will assume and would assign one as your favorite. So make sure, if you have one, make it the 'performer'.
  5. Team building, dinner/lunch treats are not real motivators. It is only superficial and the effect normally don't last long.
According to Psychologist Frederick Herzberg, there are certain basic needs - called 'hygiene factors' - that individuals look for in their work1:
  1. Salary and benefits
  2. Working conditions
  3. Company policy
  4. Status
  5. Job security
  6. Supervision and autonomy
  7. Office life
  8. Personal Life
All the above comes from the company and not really the best and real motivators. Below are what actually drive people to achieve and Herzberg wrote that these are what a leader should aim for1:
  1. Achievement - the urge to achieve is a basic human drive. This is one of the most powerful motivators.
  2. Recognition - acknowledge from senior leaders enhances people's self-esteem.
  3. Job interest - a job that provides positive, satisfying pleasure will be a greater motivational force than a job that does not sustain interest.
  4. Responsibility - the opportunity to exercise authority and power demands skills, risk-taking, and decision making - all of these are strong motivators.
  5. Advancement - the main motivator is the feeling that advancement is possible.
Lastly, Peter Drucker reminds us that: "We can argue as to whether or not we are able to motivate others. What we understand is that we have the power to demotivate. It is this ability to demotivate that we should correct.1"

So good luck with eliminating our demotivating skills and exercising our motivating power.

are excerpts from the Essentials of Supervision training I attended at Ateneo de Manila University

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