What it is and why it is important.

Motivation is an internal desire and force that drives us to accomplish tasks and goals. In the ideal situation, we learn, develop skills, and grow as individuals as we move towards these goals. So, as leaders, the growth and development of employees should be a major part of the planning process as we set goals with team members. But to do it effectively a leader needs to understand what motivates each team member. When a leader is able to motivate a team member and help them feel involved, positive results will begin to unfold.

Motivation Theories

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs categorizes some of the motivating factors in people’s lives as: Psychological Needs, Safety (Security) Needs, Social Needs, Esteem Needs, and Self-Actualization. The Hygiene Motivation theory by Herzberg continues with this idea with Maslow’s first three and a half being the hygiene.

A leader should keep in mind that motivating factors will change. If leaders are in tune with the current needs of their team members, they can more effectively motivate others. It becomes a win-win relationship when the organization can meet its own goals and tasks and the motivating needs of employee.

A Motivation Study

The Hawthorne Studies conducted by Elton Mayo is an example of how a change in the environment increased productivity. The scientists were studying the effect of light on production in a factory. They thought that light was a contributing factor to productivity levels but later realized, employees were producing more results because they felt needed, not they were a part of something, and were receiving attention. What these people wanted was social need and esteem rather than light. They needed to be involved and associate with others. Isn’t it extraordinary how powerful the need for social affiliation was in this situation.

When our own team members feel motivated, encouraged and cared about by their leaders, they will feel as though they can make a difference. The results will follow.

An Eyewitness Report

As part of my work with CMOE, I was involved in a training initiative for FedEx. There was one station in particular which experienced tremendous results year after year. We spent the day diagnosing why this station was so effective. We found that its success was directly tied to the leader’s ability to motivate the team. This stations manager would arrive daily at 8:00 a.m. But before going to his office and attacking his “in-basket” he would walk through the station and talk with his team members. It wasn’t necessarily about business issues. He would ask about their family, or joke about a recent sporting event. This leader was developing his team and motivating them through regular interaction. In turn, because they were involved and felt a part of a team, they produced extraordinary results. Basic human interaction and a sincere concern from leaders can motivate and develop followers. It is simple things that lead to tremendous results.

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About the Author
Stephanie Mead
Ms. Mead has experience in operations management, leadership development curriculum design, organization development consulting, and international operations. Stephanie has developed complete leadership development curriculums for some of the world’s leading organizations. Her experience also includes creating specialized learning experiences and blended learning programs aimed at maximizing human and organization performance. Stephanie has also co-authored 4 books with other CMOE consultants.

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