We have been trying since the dawn of time to determine what inspires others to work harder, longer, and more efficiently. In the following Q&A, sales manager, trainer, and motivational speaker Mark Zokle explains why the answer largely remains a mystery.
Q: Is there a single factor that leads people to do more in the workplace?
Mark Zokle: Surprisingly, no. Even money doesn’t seem to have much of an influence beyond a certain point.
Q: What about things that demotivate individuals?
Mark Zokle: That we know quite a bit about. Taking a person’s individuality away, not allowing for autonomy…those things will suck the motivation right out of a workplace. When we create an environment where people feel disposable, they act like it. They will do just enough to fulfill their job requirements.
Q: So, reverse that. Does giving employees more say in how they work increase productivity?
Mark Zokle: It does, yes, but not to the same degree that they are de-motivated. It’s not quite that simple.
Q: What are some suggestions to help employees feel needed and encourage them towards better performance?
Mark Zokle: I think that’s something that has to be addressed on an individual level. It is one thing to offer a company-wide bonus when a specific goal is reached but it quite is another thing to tailor rewards to a specific person or group of people.
For instance, computer programmers and videogame designers are people who spend long hours alone front of a computer. An environment like this can lead to questionable productivity. Not surprisingly, when you put their names on the software, they will work twice as hard. In this example, giving an employee ownership of the product he or she is working on makes them more accountable – to themselves.
Just be aware that when rewards/motivations are personalized, you may run the risk of appearing to show favoritism to some employees, and that can demoralize others.