One of my favorite things about Rotary Club 29 is the amount of successful business leaders who are willing to share their insight and wisdom. I often look around the room on Tuesday and wonder how people motivate their team to drive forward and push for success within their own organizations? As a business owner myself I want positive performance with a team that is engaged and passionate. So how should we identify successful behaviors that will benefit our unique businesses? I believe that properly motivating our teams is a key element to success.
Motivation is the “forces either internal or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action.” Firstly, we must understand the type of needs that drive a person to action and then create rewards that will encourage that behavior. The mindset at many failed companies has been that if you want people to perform better you give them a bigger reward. Unfortunately, that only works for simpler tasks. Conceptual and creative cognitive thinking requires a different approach. Performance based rewarding can destroy motivation, crush creativity and diminish great performance. If we do not want to encourage such short term thinking, we should work to determine the complexity of a task and then determine the type of reward. As leaders we should allow people to find their own solutions by both acknowledging the needed tasks and by helping our teams to understand the “why” behind it. Ultimately money is not always the best motivator. For many, motivators include fair treatment, so keeping employees motivated requires equity within the workplace. Conventional management addresses lower basic needs and relies on extrinsic motivators and punishments to keep workers performing. I would instead choose to acknowledge that there are a variety of needs and act as a leader that does not function with a carrot and stick approach.
Properly motivated and engaged employees will seek out the types of behaviors and activities that are rewarded and then do their best to perform in such a manner. It is in the performance that this engagement is seen in action. We should encourage purpose and autonomy in our workplaces that finds alignment between all levels of the company and then reward what we expect. The conversations we have at Rotary that are open and vulnerable should continue beyond the doors of St. Luke’s. This goes beyond just having an open-door policy into allowing people to participate in strategic decisions. We are the torchbearers of both inclusivity and recognition that is rooted in the understanding of how people are motivated.
As successful leaders we want a city filled with people who love their jobs and are fully satisfied with the expectations and conditions that they work within. If this balance is met we will have a successful company both in positive results and also in a highly motivated and engaged workforce. I believe in our ability to help share the “why” behind our companies and as a result our employees will create a better future for Oklahoma City.
Want to learn more about leadership and some of the thoughts above? Check out “The Leadership Experience” by Richard Daft.