Even though worker capacity and motivation are destroyed when leaders choose power over productivity, it appears that bosses would rather be in control than have the organization work well.
~ Margaret J. Wheatley
Much has been written about the importance of motivation. Being able to motivate your employees to do their very best work is a key competency for leaders. The quest to find ways to encourage people to work harder and longer seems endless.
In fact, when you search Amazon for motivation, in the business category alone, there are over 800 titles. Some of these titles include:
- Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink
- Managing to Have Fun: How Fun at Work Can Motivate Your Employees, Inspire Your Coworkers, and Boost Your Bottom Line by Matt Weinstein
- Become a Destination Company: A Roadmap to Attract, Motivate, and Retain Great Employees by Jeffrey Scott
However, focusing on the things you can do to motivate your employees only gets you half way there.
The other half
It’s important to develop new skills and ways to motivate your employees. However, it’s equally as important to stop doing the things that demotivate your employees. Adding new motivations doesn’t necessarily get rid of the aspects within your organization that are a barrier to your employees’ efforts.
When setting an organization’s strategy, many of us spend almost as much time deciding what we’re not going to do as what we are going to do. The same concept can be applied when looking to lead our human assets. Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix, says “Some of the most innovative work I got to do at Netflix wasn’t to create new stuff, it was just stop doing the stupid stuff.”
Stop, don’t start
Roger Crandall, CEO of Mass Mutual Insurance describes how they stopped managing their dress code. “We changed our dress code to two words: dress appropriately. It sends a message of personal accountability to people. Don’t look in the company handbook to see what you wear to work. Instead, just dress appropriately.”
Randall stopped trying to manage people through the company handbook. He removed this demotivating behavior. How many of your company “rules” lend themselves more towards a culture of big brother watching versus protecting and supporting the organization. What could you stop doing when it comes to policy and procedure?
Moving away instead of towards
Many times leaders focus on the future and ways to enhance the business. When we do culture assessments we are always looking to build a better culture. But sometimes, it’s just as much about stopping behaviors in order to get ahead. Information hoarding, empire building, and bureaucracy are values that need to be taken out of the organization at the same time as building better teamwork. Otherwise the effort will only take you half way there.
Having a happy, productive and motivated workforce is what all leaders dream of. Creating the environment for people to do their best work is a top job for each and every one of us. When you look at ways to motivate, take a hard look at what could be demotivating. By looking at things from both perspectives, you can make transformational change!