There are many types, theories and models for motivation. In addition, there are many people who will try to tell you which is best for your organization without first knowing your business, the make up of your workforce or your strategy and objectives.
Motivation, like any other business challenge, should be addressed strategically. It is important that you ask questions relevant to your business and specific to the roles and people in your organization.
What is it you want to achieve and what behaviors are necessary for this achievement?
Goals of a product development team differ from goals of a sales team differ from goals of a marketing team. Draw causation between behaviors and performance in order to determine what behaviors you need your people to exhibit. Once you have established what behaviors these are, you can look for talent that will be most suited for these roles. You will want to put your highest performers in roles with the greatest variability and remove low performers from these strategic positions. It makes little sense to invest in a low performer in a strategic role if their history and “profile” demonstrate that the person has little potential for improvement. In looking inward for this talent, you will need to refer to your talent inventories, competency assessments and performance appraisals. In looking outward, there are a few exciting technologies that screen and assess for these items.
Who are you trying to motivate?
I would think you would want to have working for you only those who share your company vision and beliefs, and who’s personalities fit with your company culture. It should be noted I did not say perspective. I want to make it clear here that diversity is necessary for innovation, creativity and, quite frankly, success. Diversity allows for new perspectives. It enables companies to see risks and opportunities they would not have otherwise been able if everyone shared the same perspective. No, I am referring to the idea of a shared vision and belief in one’s mission. These people are going to be the most interested in accomplishing the work your company has set out to perform day after day. Learn who these people are as early as possible. I’ll leave the definition of personality to the scientists and theorists but one’s development and beliefs are, at least in part, comprised of their experiences and memories, as well as, their cognitive and emotional intelligence. This means you can test for attributes by asking questions that assess how people make decisions and rank priorities. By understanding what influences your people’s decisions, you can understand what motivates them. It should be noted that to acquire the most accurate data, questions should be paired with observation and 360 feedback.
Motivation for what purpose? What do we do with this information once we have it?
Once you have established what motivates your workforce, you can use this information to determine best fit for your organization or to improve performance. These two uses are a given and how most companies will use the information. Forward thinking companies, however, will use this information to better design work, jobs, roles and tasks. They will track and monitor how what motivates their people changes over time. If they are really good, they will learn to quantify and value types of motivation and include them as data points in their people analytics capabilities and future human capital statements.
How are you currently motivating and what effect is it having?
The famous quote, “if you always do what you have always done, …” comes to mind. If your current incentives are not reaping the behaviors you need, then you need to reassess those incentives. If you don’t have the financial means to reward talent the way a large corporation might, then inventory your existing resources, structures and ways of working to determine what you can offer. You may need to redesign your incentives to include where and when someone works, how lenient you are with time off or come up with new and aggressive development and promotion opportunities. Use your organizational structure and workforce — the people and knowledge in your organization — to your advantage.