How to motivate your employees

Ange Connor

In the world of HR, the buzz questions at the moment seem to be “how do we motivate our employees” and “how do we keep them motivated to be able to retain them”. With the world of work changing at a rapid pace; as we navigate the post-COVID work landscape, with unemployment at an all-time low and the demand for talent high, motivating our employees is key for business success.

Can we, as employers, actually motivate our people? I don’t think so. I think what we can do is create an environment and opportunities for our employees to do meaningful work which leads to high levels of motivation. The rest is up to the employee; they need to choose to seize those opportunities.

The challenge is that just like everything else people management-related, it’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating these motivating environments for our employees. The environment or opportunities that lead to motivation for one employee might be demotivating for another employee. Just like what meaningful work looks and feels like for one person is very different to what it looks and feels like for the next employee, plus it can change over time and because of life experiences and circumstances. Hence, the Great Realignment – Resignation. As a result of COVID and the last couple of years, people have changed, their priorities have changed and as such, what meaningful work is and what motivates them has evolved and changed.

So, if you’re a people manager responsible for creating an environment and opportunities to motivate your people, where on earth do you start if it’s different for each and every one of your people?

Have you ever asked your team members what motivates them or what meaningful work looks like for them? Have you ever stopped and considered this question for yourself? It’s not an easy question to answer. The majority of people that I ask this question to can’t clearly articulate an answer. Some throw out some thoughts and ideas, but very few have clarity on it. If we struggle to articulate an answer, chances are our team members will too and will find the question challenging and maybe even confronting. In many of the career coaching sessions I facilitate, this is the million-dollar question that people want to find the answer to so they can go in search of their dream job. If only it was that simple!

I think it’s our role, as people managers, to help our people navigate and explore what it is that gives them motivation and what meaningful work looks like for them. We can’t simply launch in and ask the question and expect an answer on the spot. And, we should regularly ask the question because the answer changes over time.

One of the most valuable tools I have found in helping people understand what motivates them is DiSC®. I remember the first time I completed a DiSC® profile, I was astounded by its accuracy and I recall thinking how did the answers I gave draw out so much information about me. The DiSC® tool we use at Inspire HQ (there are many versions of DiSC® available so make sure you use a sound and validated version) has a section on what motivates us and what stresses us. Understanding your DiSC® profile, as well as your motivators and stressors, provides immense insight into the environment and type of work that gives us motivation. For example, my own DiSC® profile details my need for achievement; I’m outcome orientated, I like to take action and quickly.

For me, working in an environment where I can influence outcomes, take action and feel like I am achieving highly motivates me. When working on tasks and in environments where I don’t feel like I am moving forward, progressing tasks, or getting results, I can often become disinterested and lose my enthusiasm and motivation. In these kinds of scenarios my energy gets zapped. An environment that is too rigid with processes and procedures and doesn’t allow for innovation; where tasks are performed to tick a box and there is no opportunity to innovate or do things differently also drains my energy and leaves me feeling demotivated. There isn’t one simple thing that leads to motivation for me or for others. There are many differing factors and influences. For a business to retain me, I’d need an environment where I can frequently experience a sense of achievement and getting results.

Simply getting your team members to complete a DiSC® profile won’t give you all the answers, but it does go a long way in helping our team members understand themselves and provides us, as their managers, with insight. Coupled with genuine career conversations between you and your team member, regular check ins, and constantly observing and reflecting on the tasks we perform and how they make us feel will help us navigate the employee motivation landscape. In turn, giving us the best chance of creating a motivating environment for our employees and the best chance of retaining them.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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