Understanding Employee Motivations To Improve Communication & Effectiveness

As tempting as it may be to manage your staff using a paint-by-numbers approach, it certainly won’t help you get the best out of your team.

To motivate your employees (and consequently boost business growth), you need to build an understanding of what drives them as individuals.

Knowing what makes each person in your organization tick and leveraging this knowledge to create a better working environment for them is hugely beneficial to your company. 

Employees who work in an engaging environment are more effective at their jobs. In fact, a workplace culture survey conducted by Gallup found that highly engaged teams are up to 21% more profitable.

The link between understanding and actioning employee motivations is also connected to higher staff retention rates. This remarkable statistic published by Hawk Incentives found that “a 5% increase in employee retention can generate a 25% to 85% increase in profitability.”

Let’s take a look at some lesser-known ways that you, as part of a company’s management team, can learn more about what drives your employees and implement strategies to leverage this knowledge.

Work-Life Balance and Travel

We’re going to take a slightly different angle to this somewhat over-discussed topic.

Yes, of course, it’s critical to understand that some of your employees are going to value their after-hours time more than others and that it’s important to respect this boundary. 

However, many employers fail to look at the other side of this coin.

Some employees have a genuine motivation to prioritize work over their private lives. While it’s not always possible to officially request that these individuals work longer hours, there is an elegant way to leverage these individuals’ dedication to their careers to their and your benefit: flag them as company representatives for out-of-town engagements that require travel.

In a remarkably insightful survey published by Savvysleeper, it emerged that a truly astonishing amount of people not only enjoy taking extended work-related trips, but that they also found it beneficial to their careers and that traveling for work made them less inclined to want to leave a job.

Find out who the people in your company are who share these motivations and do what you can to ensure that they are the people entrusted with taking on out-of-town responsibilities. 

Where there are gaps between what is required of the person traveling and what they are capable of professionally, consider providing necessary training.

Sending a qualified person who hates being away from their family on an extended trip, while leaving an employee who’d relish the opportunity at home, is a no-win situation, especially if a reasonable amount of training could solve the problem.

Teamwork in a Startup Environment

Even with the rise of remote working and decentralized teams, there is a growing sense of the importance of teamwork.

This is especially obvious among startup employees who frequently need to wear different hats in order to keep the company running smoothly.

A startup environment is not a space where mindless automatons following standard operating procedures will thrive. And if you’ve recruited correctly, you’d have avoided bringing these types of individuals on board.

For those startups who have managed to recruit individuals whose personal values include the importance of cooperation and fostering attitudes of mutual respect between colleagues, creating a greater sense of teamwork is absolutely essential to growth and success.

Obviously, even if you’re fortunate enough to employ a group of people who agree that improving teamwork is an important part of their respective responsibilities, the methods you’ll implement in doing this will differ from person to person.

The answer is to arm yourself with a very broad and diverse range of tactics to improve cohesion between your company’s staff and departments. Get to know your staff. Understand what drives them as individuals. Based on this information, you can be very selective about which methods you choose to improve synergy in building a startup team.

Image via Stocknsap.io

Health and Safety

This topic cannot be more relevant than in the post-COVID-lockdown world.

At the time of writing this article, most countries are beginning to relax restrictions on social distancing, and many companies are starting to require employees to return to their places of work.

It’s important to note that some employees may be generally health-conscious or part of a demographic that is at high risk of an infection being life-threatening to them or their family.

For these individuals, returning to a work environment will pose a much higher risk than for those who don’t share similar concerns. Before throwing open your doors and inviting your staff back, it’s important to understand specific attitudes towards health and safety among your staff.

Learn the basics of health and safety best practices in a world that’s dealing with a pandemic and ensure that you create a work environment that caters to the individual needs of your staff.

Your Own Personal Leadership Style

With some exceptions, entrepreneurs are not always natural leaders.

After all, there’s an obvious difference between the skills needed to develop an innovative business idea and the skills needed to manage the people who are helping you implement it.

For various reasons, you simply might not have that drive to delve into your staff’s personal values and implement strategies to get the most out of them. Perhaps you’re preoccupied with business or product development. Or perhaps you feel that staff should shape their values around the needs of the business, contrary to what this article is proposing.

If this is the case, it may be time to consider bringing on board an Integrator. Borrowing the term from the influential book on management, Rocketfuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters, Integrators are people in management who thrive on detail. Managers who love to delve into the nitty-gritty of what will realize the CEO’s vision and make it happen.

Typically, these are the individuals who are ideally tasked with converting staff values into greater productivity and growth. Don’t be overly hesitant to hand these reins over to a person more qualified for this crucial task.

About Travis Jamison

Travis Jamison is the Founding Director of Smash.VC, investing in small, bootstrapped online businesses