Jon Katzenbach, Chad Gomes, Carolyn Black

Feelings are messengers of needs. Meeting needs unlocks positive feelings and energy; neglecting needs does the opposite. By integrating business objectives with meeting people’s needs, companies can make sure the strong wind of a positive emotional force is at their back. Emotions and feelings bring our needs — human requirements for survival — to our attention and strongly move us toward meeting them. 

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Our feelings … [ Read more ]

Eric Hoffer

Where self-advancement cannot, or is not allowed to, serve as a driving force, other sources of enthusiasm have to be found if momentous changes, such as the awakening and renovation of a stagnant society or radical reforms in the character and pattern of life of a community, are to be realized and perpetuated.

Susan David

If you tell your employees that you want them to embrace teamwork, but then reward your work force based on what they accomplish individually, you’ve undercut your message. In all likelihood, the consequence will be that employees who want to be considered for a bonus may no longer want to perform or support “unseen” collaborative work, which, despite what the company posits, goes unrewarded.

Chris Powell

Trust and transparency are the two biggest factors that impact engagement metrics, and if you don’t share survey results, you’ll erode both. You don’t have to do everything employees want, of course, but explain why you’re moving forward with some ideas and not with others. Organizations tend to do a poor job with the ‘why.’ They tell the team the ‘what,’ but not the reason behind … [ Read more ]

Darren Lee, Mike Pino, Ann Johnston

Although an initiative should not rely solely on extrinsic motivation, that is, rewards and penalties (because they shift people’s motivation to the transactional side and thus diminish genuine interest in learning), keeping score can be useful in fostering spaced repetition. It represents a more “gamified” approach to daily life. Employees might thus earn points for making progress in gaining skills, perhaps redeemable as merchandise.

Employee Engagement: Making a Difference

When clients, customers and other end users express feedback and appreciation, employees develop stronger beliefs in the impact and value of their work. Interaction also increases empathy for customers, even when the interaction is virtual.

Jochen Menges

What it means to be happy differs widely among people. Some of us, when we say we want to be happy, actually mean that we want to feel calm and relaxed. That’s what we would consider a state of happiness. Then there are others who would say, “I want to be excited and enthusiastic. And if I’m feeling that, then I am happy.” There may … [ Read more ]

The Little Things That Make Employees Feel Appreciated

In our combined 50-plus years of working to improve organizations, we’ve observed that many managers struggle to make employees feel that their talents and contributions are noticed and valued. To explore this problem, we recently took a deep dive within an organization to see how organizational efforts to show appreciation and gratitude were perceived. In that project we engaged with both employees and managers through … [ Read more ]

Forget Cash. Here are Better Ways to Motivate Employees

In today’s tight job market, employers must focus on how to attract and keep top talent. Giving away stacks of money may not always be the best incentive.

Josh Bersin

Much research shows that pay is a “hygiene factor,” not an “engagement factor.” In other words, in most cases if compensation is not high enough, people will leave—but increasing compensation does not directly increase engagement (with certain exceptions).

What Really Motivates Us

What really motivates us? Humans have pondered this question for decades. Is it money, power, and fame? Or rather fear and punishment? Psychologists’ answers have varied, along with a broad transformation in prevailing views. Developed by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci nearly four decades ago, self-determination theory (SDT) has become one of the most widely accepted theories of human motivation in contemporary behavioral science.

Take 5: How to Motivate Employees

Research sheds light on which employee incentives work best.

Susanna Gallani

These findings echo one of the main concerns associated with monetary rewards that sometimes fail to accomplish their goals. Academics refer to this phenomenon as the crowding-out effect of explicit incentives on intrinsic motivation. In other words, associating an economic value with a certain activity changes the nature of the exchange. If health care workers sanitize their hands because it is in the best interest … [ Read more ]

Richard Ryan

Unfortunately, so often when people try to motivate others they take responsibility rather than helping the person find responsibility themselves.

Don Faul

Most startups don’t spend nearly enough time recognizing people. Most people need to know their managers and org leaders see their hard work and value it. They’re hungry for this type of acknowledgment. When you tell a story about them, you kick their motivation into hyperdrive, and you make them a model for the rest of the team to follow their lead.

Don Faul

I firmly believe that leaders at companies need to be in service to their people. They need to ensure they have everything they need to succeed. One of the most critical needs they have is a complete picture of why they should show up and pour their heart into their work every day. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a basic need.

Don Faul

… people attach emotion to individuals. They love rooting for people. They love experiencing the world through others’ eyes. The more you can tell stories about actual people that connect to the broader purpose, the more your audience will feel and not simply hear what you are trying to tell them.

Julie Zhuo

Teams that fall in love with a problem have more successful outcomes than teams that fall in love with particular solutions. This is because knowing that a problem is worth solving continues to be motivating even when a team doesn’t come across the right solution on the first, second, or Nth try.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Measures signal what is deemed important inside companies, because what is measured must be, almost by definition, important—just for the very fact of it being measured. Conversely, what is neglected by measures is, by inference, unimportant. Measures focus people’s attention. Measures typically drive rewards and reinforcement, because performance on measures has consequences for people’s raises, promotions, and job tenure. Therefore, and it should come as … [ Read more ]

Dan Gregory, Kieran Flanagan

One of the risks of using motivation and discipline as single bullet strategies is that none of us is disciplined in every part of our lives. Neither are we motivated all of the time. And yet we rely on these two psychological factors to drive engagement and performance.

A better option, in our opinion, is to utilize design over discipline. What this means is, designing systems … [ Read more ]