Motivation matters

Rocket businessmen

How to fine tune your communication activities to power up your people.

What you communicate, and how you position it, can go a very long way towards motivating your people – or indeed have the opposite effect. So it is worth taking the time and trouble to think these matters through and achieve an even bigger bang for your communication buck.

I’m not arguing that you should abandon all of your carefully crafted corporate messages, or go all happy clappy. What I am saying, is that you can craft your key messages in the context of what we know tends to motivate people.

What motivates your people?

Motivational theory gives us some very practical places to start. Achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility and advancement are the top five motivators according to Herzburg’s two factor model.

So why not actively promote these elements of life at work as an integral part of your approach to communication, for example:

  • Highlight the results your people have been key to delivering, directly connecting them to your business strategy, major projects and initiatives
  • Acknowledge the contribution that teams and individuals have made; and thank them for their sheer hard work, dedication and the sacrifices they have made
  • Showcase how your people have gone the extra mile to produce results, grasped the nettle and walked towards problems to overcome them
  • Feature their thoughts on how being involved made them feel, via interviews, blogs, videos or podcasts
  • Profile the opportunities for personal growth that are being created; and the people that are both seizing and benefiting from those opportunities

Alternatively you could ignore the people dimension and simply bang on, for example, about how Office 360 is revolutionalising workplace efficiency, delivering a great ROI and run a quote from the VP of IT. Just don’t expect this approach to move the motivational needle of anyone involved in the project – let alone the wider workforce.

A targeted approach

And if you want a more targeted approach, perhaps towards motivating a discrete, possibly smaller group such as a project team, you’d better find out what makes them tick. Then you can align your communication to maximise the contribution they can make to the success of the initiative.

I use a simple questionnaire to kick start the conversation about motivation with these smaller teams. Over the years some clear patterns have emerged. People are looking for clear direction, a sense that they are being listened to, the buzz of achievement that tops Herzburg’s list, and praise and encouragement for a job well done. The questionnaire also identifies the topics that don’t motivate them. The trick of course is to turn down, or even off, the communication volume on the latter items, focusing your efforts instead on the things that you now know get people fired up with enthusiasm.

Doing all this does mean you have to invest some time and effort, but that will soon pay dividends as business performance improves through the actions of your own better engaged and motivated people. Assuming you can be bothered of course.

For further powerful tips and techniques to help you to motivate and engage your workforce through better communication, take a look at our book, How to be a Better Communicator.