Smart HR: Employee Motivation and Team Morale

What motivates you?

Humans are often motivated by things like achievement, affiliation, and power. The better you understand and cater to the unique needs of each individual on your team, the better your chances for collective success. As a leader, doing what is right for your people and your organization is your primary goal. Right is not always easy or comfortable.  But when you get it right, your profit and the net margins will align and your organizational goals can and will be reached.

How do you create a path to success?

Set clear expectations & (over-) communicate clearly and concisely. Really, that’s it. It’s that simple.

Help your team members set goals that tie into company goals.  They may be short-term (< 6 months) or long-term (> 6 months).  Be sure to set realistic goals that are achievable; and include 2-3 “stretch” goals as well. Structure an incentive program to the program via equity, cash, time off, or some tangible reward for meeting or exceeding goals on time and under or on budget.

Lesson One from the human behavior handbook is this: Do the job right, get a reward.  It’s called positive reinforcement.  It works too.

Motivating en masse.

Morale is the collective motivation of the team or organization.  No doubt, this is a bit trickier because we are dealing with multiple humans.  We all come with different personalities, emotions, and experiences, and as a group we simply do not behave the same.  A team has its own culture.  One of the common themes among teams with excellent morale is to create a team that believes not only in itself, but also its leader.

Evaluate your leadership accountability:

  • Are your team members satisfied with their job responsibilities and rewards package? A happy employee is a productive employee.
  • Does the organization’s culture match that of your employees?  If not, then your team’s culture will be affected (perhaps not in a good way). Ignoring this doesn’t make it go away.
  • Do you foster a collective environment that encourages open, honest, and positive communication and collaboration?

Lesson Two from the human behavior handbook is: Set the stage for productive, happy team members.  It’s called leading by example, and they’re looking to you for direction.

If you have low morale and a poor attitude, you can turn it around.  How?

1. Identify the source of negativity. Is it truly the entire team, or perhaps 1-2 members that are unhappy? If it is 1-2 people, spend time with them to listen to their issues, and find a way to work with them to resolve the issues. You must be perceived as the caring, great listener that you are. What can you do to meet employee needs? Make it a great place to work, and be a great person to work with.

2. Be a shining star. If your organization has a sub-standard culture, then you as an individual leader must be seen as a shining star.  Shining stars DO exist in less-than-ideal cultures.  But on a broader scope, there will probably be turnover. I don’t care how well a company may pay employees, if they are treated poorly or the culture is poor, there will ultimately be attrition.

3. Remain flexible in your approach. Keep in mind that sometimes things have a funny way of sorting themselves out. Stay flexible, stay alert, and keep your mind open to new possibilities of seeing things, organizing things, and accomplishing things with the help of your greatest asset: your human capital.

Smart HR Part 2: What Causes Turnover

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Jed Friend
Jed Friend holds a Ph.D. in the area of Industrial-Organizational psychology and works in the field of talent management. LinkedIn Profile
Jed Friend

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