Today's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation.
Recently, I sat down with Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott to talk about how properly aligned goals lead to motivated teams and ultimate success.
It was a great conversation and an honor to chat one-on-one with a superstar athlete who helped win multiple Super Bowls and also achieved success in business later in his career. One thing he said that stuck with me was that it’s important to recognize that the game is bigger than you. This is the first step in aligning yourself with the team and the team goals – which is hard.
My new book, Game the Plan: Every Sales Rep’s Dream; Every CFO’s Nightmare, delves deep into the science of motivation: what really makes people tick and inspires performance for the team? After decades in the industry, I’ve seen more than a few managers who unintentionally demotivate their employees, and I’ve discovered quite a few “myth-understandings” about what truly motivates in the workplace.
Myth #1: Having a job should be motivation enough.
Sure, in a world where jobs are extremely scarce (Great Recession anyone?), having a job ismotivation enough. But you can’t really call this feeling motivation; it’s more related to fear and the anxiety that comes from having no other employment options. Buyers beware: if you subscribe to this tactic during lean times, expect a major pushback as soon as the economy improves – and it always does. There was a 37 percent increase in voluntary employee termination from 2009 to 2013. This loss of personnel isn’t just problematic, it’s costly. Losing an employee will cost your organization up to 1.5 times an employee’s annual salary.
Myth #2: Money is the greatest motivator.
According to Mindflash, being fully appreciated for completed work is more important than money for most employees. Sixty-seven percent say praise and recognition from a manager is the most effective motivator. Don’t get me wrong, money matters – a competitive salary is important for retaining rock stars – but when it comes to motivating and engaging employees, pats on the back, plaques, and public recognition go far in making them feel like appreciated members of the team.
Myth #3: Nothing lights fire like fear.
How can you tell if you’ve gone too far? If you think Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada was just misunderstood, you’ve already crossed the line. Fear is a temporary motivator that creates a stressful and unhealthy work environment, not a viable long-term strategy. While being terrified of a boss will “inspire” temporarily, burnout, absenteeism, and health problems are likely to ensue. It’s estimated that $300 billion is spent every year on costs related to workplace stress.
Myth #4: Good motivation theories and practices will work for all employees.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee motivation. This is especially important to remember when you consider that engaged employees produce 50 percent more work than disengaged employees. Different tactics inspire people born in different generations. A Gen Yer might need accolades for every completed project, while a Gen Xer may place a high premium on work-life balance. Do your homework and you’ll soon reap the benefits of motivating according to the unique makeup of your workforce.
Myth #5: Sales reps are either naturally motivated or they aren’t.
Everyone is motivated by something; it just takes time to find out what it is. With $350 billion lost in productivity annually because of disengaged employees, companies can’t afford to segment employees into limiting categories. Everyone has the potential to be motivated. Even the rep you catch playing video games during working hours has some motivation behind his or her actions. If you don’t learn what that something is and figure out how to direct it toward work, you could miss out on a highly productive employee.
If you’ve been using any of these tactics to “motivate” your employees, it’s not too late to change your ways. Just remember that motivating isn’t a guessing game, it’s a science. Use the empirical evidence outlined above, and before you know it, your personnel will be performing at peak ability.
Hear more about motivation myths in the Webinar recording “Game the Plan: Review, Strategize, and Win in 2014.”