creative idea meeting business office brainstorm

Let’s take company A and company B and assume both have a good strategy, the same opportunities, and equal resources and capabilities across their staff. Yet company B is more successful. Why? Motivation is the difference. Motivated staff are unstoppable and happy to perform for their boss and company.

So how do we create motivation and leverage it for increased performance? After all, people are a resource, and if they were a machine, we’d get an engineer in to increase the output. But we haven’t been replaced by robots yet!

Steve, a commercial director, was frustrated with the lack of motivation in his company. The other directors’ approach was to apply the carrot and stick. “If you perform we’ll give you a big bonus.” Steve’s instinct was this wouldn’t work. Sure enough, a year later the problem remained.

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In coaching, we explored how to establish an environment and way of working that would result in staff becoming self-motivated, accountable high performers. One of the critical ingredients is trust. This starts with the quality of the relationship between you and your team.

Do you have rapport and respect?

Do you have integrity? Do your actions and behaviour consistently reflect what you say?

When something goes wrong do you jump in and fix it, unintentionally undermining the staff member and thereby creating dependency?

Do you listen to your staff without judgment? Do you coach and support them?

Read more: Resisting change isn’t always bad - but you must be flexible

What would your staff say about you when you’re not present?

When trust is established, motivation increases. Spending time to create trust doesn’t need big budgets or bonuses. It’s a no-brainer to prioritise time to build rapport, spending quality time one on one with your staff. People come to work and want to do a good job. If their behaviour indicates it’s just about the paycheck, there’s your feedback highlighting trust is low.

Steve convinced his fellow directors to take a different approach. They got each member to measure and monitor their own, and the team’s, overall performance and to propose solutions. This process gave them ownership, accountability, and responsibility. They felt trusted. Their motivation soared - and so too did their results.

Jennifer Baker is a professionally trained executive coach with a strategic business background

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