Social Awareness

Where’s the Motivation?

What gets in the way of work performance? What destroys motivation? Are your employees able to perform but not willing? Or are they willing but not able?

Engagement. This management buzzword refers to an employee’s willingness to do things such as come in early and stay behind doing work for the company. When companies measure engagement, they want to determine employee’s level of commitment to the job/company. So they look at the levels of performance and motivation.

While measuring levels of engagement can help predict turnover, absenteeism and other elements affecting productivity, it does not give an indication of the root cause of the problem. This is mainly because lack of engagement is just a symptom. So, knowing the level of disengagement will neither pinpoint where the problem is nor lead to its solution.

How to deal with lack of motivation at work

To get to the root of employee disengagement and determine how to address it, there are three things we will want to consider:

1) Are employees are able to engage meaningfully, effectively, and efficiently. If not, why?

2) Is there something about the interactions, structures and processes of the company that is stopping them and causing frustration?

3) How can their work become more meaningful at an individual level?

Using Company Purpose and Values

A good starting point are the company values. The values contained in the company’s vision and mission, form a part of the corporate identity which the company would like employees to embrace. That is the Why, What and How of the company. As noted by Simon Sinek the why of a company provides the sense of purpose with which everyone is expected to work in the pursuit of a common goal. In fact, it is not uncommon for employees seek to work at a company because they identify with and are inspired by the values in the vision and mission statement. Sadly, it’s also not uncommon that once they get there, the workplace culture does not fit the company’s values claims. I’ve heard some employees say things like: ‘The culture is great, but the environment is not’. Seemingly a contradiction, this statement shows there is a discrepancy between the expected culture that exists ‘in theory’ and the existing culture or ‘how things really work around here’. In this case, the employee could be very willing but simply not able to perform at their best. Sustained for a long period, this scenario would quickly lead to disengagement.

Now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but we will not create engagement or a positive workplace culture by simply pasting the company’s values on the wall or inserting them in a new policy. What we really want is for employees to identify with the values and culture at a personal level and to feel a sense of purpose in the work they do.

Then, you want to make sure that the things you do, the way you engage with employees and clients does not contradict the values of your company. Many times this can happen in many small and often unintended ways. Remember, everything communicates something.

Previously published as: The Value of Uniqueness in Corporate Culture
Image: Jordan Whitfield