Work and Wellbeing · 10 May 2021

How to manage workforce motivation


There are two key elements involved when we talk about workforce management: firstly, communication and secondly, motivation.

A lot of people don’t take the time to stop and think about their own motivation. Motivation is all about what drives you and what your needs are. The more motivated you are, the more likely you are to achieve something, with a smile on your face.

Everybody is different. Different things motivate different people. One of the hardest things to figure out is what motivates you. Without knowing this, not only will you struggle to self-motivate but others will not know how to help you. What can motivate one person, can de-motivate another. In regards to line managers, trying to motivate everyone in your team in the same way is never going to work. People will only be truly motivated if they take responsibility for their own well-being and recognise when they need to move forward in a way that positively affects their feelings and attitude towards work.

It is crucial, in order to lead a balanced and enjoyable life, that we understand ourselves and our needs and that starts with self-awareness. Your sense of motivation will change as time progresses and you grow as a person. During COVID-19, people have been forced to reassess what’s more important in their lives and their goals may be very different from what they might have been before the pandemic.

The motivational curve represents the ups and downs that we go through almost daily.

At the top of the curve, we are really motivated, positive and eager to get stuck in. Down at the bottom of the curve, we are demotivated. Things may be going very wrong, and our perception of tasks may be very negative. It is easy to recognise when we are at either end of this curve; we can recognise when we are on top, feeling great, and we can identify when we are at the bottom where everything is a bit more of a struggle.

When we split the curve in half, there is a point at which those who were highly motivated have slowly inched down the curve and fallen into the lower half where their motivation is waning. It is far more difficult to know when we have slipped down the curve towards the danger zone because the changes in mood or work ethic are only small. It is much harder, when we have fallen to the bottom of the curve, to climb back up it but people who overall have a better sense of their own motivation are more likely to bounce back after a setback.

We should be aware of our own behaviour changes and seeking feedback from the people around us on how they feel we are doing. If we can see behaviour changes in our co-workers where they are quieter or tired or a little less on the ball, asking what might be demotivating them allows you to find solutions quickly.

Sometimes it is difficult to provide support to an employee who seems unmotivated, because the change in attitude and mood may be caused by an issue in their personal lives. However, it should still be addressed. If someone on the team is consistently displaying low motivation or low moods, it can begin to affect other members of the team and become a wider problem.

Take some time to look at your behaviours and ask for feedback from your direct collaborators.

Part of the line manager role is to help, encourage and keep our staff motivated. We need to find out what motivates our staff. There is no way we can find out what our staff needs from us unless we ask: “What motivates you?” and that is where communication comes in. Communicating about our motivation prevents miscommunication . Motivated staff lead to more productivity, better customer service, and better results for your company. So, this shouldn’t just be another job to do. It should be considered a part of the role as a manager.

However, it is not a manager’s responsibility to motivate the employees in the first place. It is their responsibility to prevent their employees’ motivation from sliding down the curve, but they cannot build the motivation up if it is not there in the first place.  You can only help motivate others if they are also able to work towards their own motivation.

Communication is the only way to check on your peoples’ motivation.

There are many different methods to motivate your people. We often think that money or financial incentives are a good motivator but that is only a hygiene factor that helps create a stable environment from which a person starts. People who are happy and motivated in their positions are unlikely to leave for a slightly higher salary somewhere else. Reversely, a demotivated employee will take on a position elsewhere for a lower salary if it excites them or seems like a better environment.



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