Studies have been done over the past several decades on the subject of motivating staff in a company. Recently, according to the Harvard Review, the ability to do brain imagery and actually watch the brain's responses to various stimuli, revealed some amazing information.
From previous psychological studies, leaders in business developed a model to use that describes attaining a response from employees as "pulling levers." It is akin to "pushing people's buttons" in order to get a reaction. These new studies have demonstrated a more in-depth look at how the brain really works.
Over the years, there have been books and articles written about the seven levers, three levers, and four levers as business pros tried to make sense of behavior and how it connects to improving their business. Most recently, it has been implied from both psychologists and business professionals who study behavior in the workplace, that there are four basic levers that can be "pulled."
In this articles, these four levers will be discussed, their interaction examined, and how they directly relate to both a company and a manager in effectively motivating staff.
The first lever is the need we have to acquire those things that make us feel good.
Our brains are basically pre-wired to want. We want what we have, what we don't have, and what others have. We spend our lives, both consciously and unconsciously, comparing ourselves with those around us. We want things that makes us feel better, like money, travel, a nice home, car, food, friends, and a good job. And it never stops. If we get the job of our dreams, then we want a specific office. If we get that office, we want new carpeting. Upon acquiring new carpeting, we ask for new furniture. If, on the other hand, we did not know about all the things out there to want, we would not want so much.
Companies have known about this so-called lever, and have tried to use it to their advantage in many different ways. Some offer raises, prizes, pins, plaques, and other types of recognition. Everything under the sun has been tried to different degrees of success.
One of the greatest incentives, to no one's surprise, is pay for performance. Employees that are fairly paid for excellent performance strive to exceed. Others are more willing to work harder for financial incentives. As long as the monetary bait is offered in a fair evaluative manner, all employees seem to respond well to money.
Many companies can't seem to get away from the use of politics, tenure, and status on a regular basis for rewards.This is in direct contrast to rewarding for good performance, and not for poor performance.
There are many big companies noted for the change they made to the pay-for-performance style of motivating employees to work harder or to increase their effectiveness. The improvements definitely showed money, as an incentive, does work to improve worker performance.
2. The second lever is the drive to bond with others in the company or office.
An organization or company that is willing to break the old ways of management and be open to more informal and unleveled meetings and discussions, communicating directly -- as opposed to having to go through the chain of command -- is another pointed activity that has proven to bring about positive behavioral changes in companies. The brain responds when each person is treated with equal respect. To have an employee go through another employee of the company, even if that person is in charge of his area, in order to relay a concern to someone further up, destroys -- rather than fosters -- a person's feelings of belonging or bonding.
When the rules and the egos of those in charge become the basis for the system, then people will not be motivated to do their best, or stay with the company, when another job comes along. Understanding that people need to feel a commitment to them, as well as from them, is essential. Knowing that most workers just need to know that everyone is on the same side, will keep your most talented and creative from defecting.
If, as a company, you spend the time to hire great workers, then it only makes sense that you will spend the time to motivate them to stay with you. If not your company is spinning its wheels. A basic human need is to feel worthy, to feel liked, and to feel appreciated.
If, as a manager, you continually up the sales percentages required for earning commissions, your people will be looking around to find a company that continually rewards their hard work. If, as a manager, you cannot find a way to spend some informal face time with your staff, you will find the gap between your desk and theirs expanding.
To create a bond between employee and the company takes work, but again, for those companies that have made the effort to connect and level the field, it has paid off in terms of better production and increased sales.
3. The third level is referred to as the need to comprehend.
Many times in our work, we are given tasks, instructions, and projects that we do not see the point in doing. Possibly we tell ourselves that surely someone higher up knows what they are doing and what we are about and it must be trusted. That line of thinking will work only so long. If this happens over and over, a staff member will lose any feeling of connection with his company. The work will suffer, because, admittedly, if the boss doesn't care enough to engage the staff to understand, then the staff will not care enough to do good work for him.
Comprehending is understanding how things work, why things work, and who is in place keeping that work going. So often a company or a manager wrongly thinks that any employee who does work in one place has no need to understand work being done in another. If an employee is made to see how a company is run, managed, and how the systems work together, he will recognize that what he does, makes a difference and if affects the whole. It simply takes a leader to open up and make it happen. Running a ship so tight that no one is allowed to consider what else is happening outside of his area, or made to feel as though he should just keep his head down and do what he is told, will eventually lose staff effectiveness. It also will not make a management team strong. People in a company, no matter at which level, should comprehend that everyone there is basically a team that works together for the good of all.
A company that is making changes must open itself up to how those changes will take place so everyone knows where they stand and how they will be affected. When people in an organization is seeing little things change they are left wondering what is happening. If not made aware, they will think the worst
It works when a company is downsizing. No matter how difficult it is to do it, the management does not want the last thing an employee feels about him or the company is that they did not do everything in their power to assist those who are tagged to lose jobs. If a company does not understand that "knowing" is the glue that holds the company together, and be unwilling to keep workers aware of changes, they will see loses. If an organization makes let the staff in on those changes it will keep the environment friendly, healthy, inviting, and exciting. To comprehend the truth, no matter how bad it might be, will benefit the worker and ultimately the company.
Workers like to be given challenges, embrace new kinds of tasks, and be part of the effort to keep a company going strong. Keeping everyone informed will only increase worker satisfaction, and allow company production to be more than merely average. By opening the lines of communication up and down the staircase, and letting everyone in on the conversation, has shown to have a very positive effect on workers, management and overall performance of a company.
4. The fourth lever that can be pulled to motivate workers is the need to defend.
Though defending what is important is more often thought about as a natural response to harm intended to ourselves or our loved ones, it works the same in a business. When a company is transparent with employees, they may not like what is happening, but will, at least, not feel like they are under attack. When individuals understand where the company is headed, what drives it, and how it will affect them, they are more willing to defend their jobs and their workplace.
A company who takes care of its own will be defended by the people who work there. Making sure workers have the materials they need, space to simply put their coat, a day care or fitness center, a café or coffee shop, all contribute to a staff who will stand up for the company when the company needs to hold back a pay raise for a year or ask workers to tighten their workplace belts.
Companies can now see, through the brain research, that workers are very responsive to bosses who really do advocate for them. If a person can trust and have faith in the company leaders, that person will stay in a job when the company struggles. A company can work to maintain great workers without too much overhead, if it realizes that motivating workers is more about how they treat each employee, as much as how much he is paid.
5. In studies of the brain pictures, giving thought to each of these basic "levers" that were pulled, the researchers notice another interesting activity. Stimulation of all four sectors of thought, pulling each of the four levers at the same time motivates the individuals to extremely higher levels, than when used independently.
The brain imagery responded as being motivated when each of the four thought processes were stimulated, but when all were stimulated at the same time, the level of motivation was increased at a much higher level. The jump was dramatic.
As a manager, staying abreast of the latest research is one of the most important ways to spend some time. Knowing how people function in the workplace, understanding the interaction between the psychological and neurological activities of the brain, offers insight into how to run an office or company. In today's markets, a person who works in business works with all kinds of people and more often than not, in many different places. The job of management will rest as much on your knowledge of how people work and think, as on your knowledge of business principles.
Staying aware of your staff as people who spend all day, every day, in your environment should cause some major thought to what and how those people think. Knowing how to keep your staff motivated with challenges, meeting needs in every way and assuring them of their worth is a full time job. And that is the biggest reason delegation is so important. By delegating the basic work and not taking it on yourself, you are left to monitor, manage, and maintain your staff effectively.
Providing not only training, but chances to learn, explore, create, and communicate ideas, all contribute to good management.
In the XYZ Corporation, the management advocated for more services for the employees in the building. They had informal conversations with their people and listened to their needs and wants. Paying attention to recent research, they proposed a plan to the company heads. They proposed to put in areas with soft furniture between the groups of cubicles, offer menus for food delivery in the area, allow a coffee company to put up a kiosk on the main level, and consider partnering with the daycare across the street to give workers first choice at openings, with a discount in exchange for provision of lots of scrap material for art, plus a donation of some old bookcases they had in storage. The total cost of this plan was minimal. The total profit from this plan was astounding.
The staff felt the company leadership was bonding with them, providing things they needed and wanted, and they comprehended that the company was in a difficult financial position, so they did not ask for pay raises. When the leaders gave the go ahead to implement the entire plan, most workers were able to defend why they worked for and so appreciated this company. The payback for the company was huge in the loyalty of the staff during a difficult economic downturn.
Set up your physical or computerized notebook:
For this article, I encourage you to look up the latest research in brain studies and business. There is some great research from some of the top business colleges to examine. Pick up a book to read, or subscribe to an online site that stays current in business approaches. Find out who the leaders are in your area of business and find out when they might be in your area for a conference. Never let yourself slide into complacency thinking you've got this. In today's advancements in brain studies, the experts are learning new and interesting things about people on a continual basis. Don't become stagnant, but stay abreast of what is new, and what others are doing and thinking. Stay engaged.
1. Can you name the four levers that drive motivation?
2. Do you really understand each one?
3. Think about how you might maximize your employees to motivation by using all four levers.
4. Do you think you have the skill to implement these motivators?
If you are unsure of these considerations, go back and review the material.