Motivation. If you can understand what motivates your employees, you’ll have summarily solved your organizations engagement problem.

Unfortunately, the journey of understanding each employee’s individual source of motivation is long and difficult. While everyone is motivated by something, sources of motivation are as unique as the people themselves. Here in lies the burden of leadership, managers must know what motivates their people. It is impossible for the company executives to both understand and make policies that are custom tailored to all the employees. So, the burden rests with managers to make sure they lead their people according to what moves them.

When trying to better address the ever elusive “why” behind employee engagement issues, organizations must ensure they have created an environment that allows management to find real answers. All to often, organizations pass along as lip service the idea of management empowerment, which encourages them to run their teams they way they want to produce the best work. At the same time these same organizations enforce so much bureaucratic approval processes that nothing gets done without their bosses’ boss giving the sign off.

If organizations consistently reinforce the idea that management doesn’t actually have the power to make real meaningful decisions, then in time managers will stop trying to effect positive change in their teams. They will stop trying to figure out what moves their employees to greatness because even if they could figure it out, they’re powerless to enable those aspirations.

Without being able to motivate employees, organizations will be stuck in the void of low engagement.

In a recent podcast, Lindsay McGregor, author of Primed to Performand cofounder of Vega Factor, explained to us the science behind employee motivation. She described three instrumental characteristics to ensure that employees are fully motivated: play, purpose, and potential. She asserts that work needs to have elements that are enjoyable. People want to have an amount of fun while doing any task so why not help make work a little more fun? That fun shouldn’t just be random and directionless but be focused and with purpose. Everything that people do at work should have a purpose. Useless and boring tasks will demotivate people very quickly. Finally, the work should drive people to reach their potential. To reach out to Lindsey, visit her at her LinkedIn page.

Everybody has drive. Everybody has passion. As humans, there are things that move us and inspire us to be better than we are. While the specifics behind each person’s motivation vary tremendously, it’s imperative to understand that each of us has something for which we are willing to go above and beyond. Only organizations that enable managers to affect change in their employees’ lives will find success motivating their people.

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