The personal relationship an employee has with his or her immediate supervisor is key to employee motivation, the study concluded: “The attitude and actions of the immediate supervisor can enhance employee engagement or can create an atmosphere where an employee becomes disengaged.”
Notably absent from the study’s findings, however, are traditional methods of motivation. Prodding, pushing or punishing people is too little too late if you want to motivate employees to perform better. Even encouragement isn’t enough, at least on its own.
What really sparks motivation among employees goes deeper than a kind word or a threat. Immediate supervisors who understand this are rockstars at employee motivation because they’re willing and enthusiastic about communicating more deeply with the people they manage.
It brings to mind the words of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
Help the immediate supervisors within your company be the best employee motivators they can. Given the right groundwork, training and resources, supervisors will share and spread a cohesive company vision to employees. The Dale Carnegie study identifies several key areas in which intermediate supervisors can play a role toward increasing employee engagement.
Caring — Do your managers take an interest in employees as people? Are managers empowered to support employee health and well-being? Are managers trained to listen to employees and to make sure each employee feels his or her opinions and experiences matter?
Career Advancement — Do managers have the tools and resources they need to help employees set clear skills and career-growth goals? Do managers evoke a sense of company ownership and pride among employees?
Value — Are managers equipped to appropriately recognize and reward employees for a job well done? Is showing appreciation a normal part of everyday interaction?
If you’re wondering where to focus your company’s efforts toward employee motivation, the study found several demographic groups that typically struggle to stay engaged and motivated at work:
- Middle-aged employees (40 to 49 years old)
- The most highly educated, i.e., those with a post-graduate education
- Lower-level income employees
- Newer employees, especially those in the organization less than a year
- Client-facing and clerical staffers
- Those working in government, military, education and manufacturing sectors
Where are the weak links for employee motivation in your company? If your company currently has or is expecting a wave of new employees, for example, you may want to consider putting extra care into an employee onboarding program to help them assimilate into the company culture and develop a sense of belonging. (Check out our recent blog on employee onboarding for tips to get started.)
Investment in real, lasting employee motivation produces real, lasting results. “When it comes to people, research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged,” according to the Dale Carnegie white paper. “In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.”
Employee motivation thrives in a culture of gratitude. For a step-by-step guide with practical tips to get you started on building a vibrant culture of gratitude, download our FREE e-book, “Workplace Gratitude.”
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