Motivational Factors of Empowerment

What motivational methods are necessary for people to feel empowered?  How does empowerment impact motivation? Why do “carrots and sticks,” or “things” not work to motivate people? The most powerful human motivator costs nothing.

This is the fourth blog in a series of blogs on Empowerment.   

The Most Powerful Human Motivator Costs Nothing:  Meeting human needs of respect, purpose and trust.  On the other hand, when you trample on human needs, you not only demotivate, people become disengaged and they exit.  Your turnover rates spiral out of control.   

As we learned in an earlier blog in this series, “research shows that when you consistently treat people right, they place salary fourth behind respect, purpose, and trust.”  This is true of all human beings, but especially the two youngest colleagues, Gen Ys and Plurals.

Empowerment is crucial to success today and even more so in the future.  However, before you can arrive at empowerment, people must feel safe, they must trust.   You must meet human needs of respect and purpose before you can nurture trust.   Empowerment and trust are intricately connected.  Both are intricately linked to motivation.

There is nothing more powerful in motivating people as meeting these basic human needs.  Nothing!

“Things” Have Never Worked to Motivate Human Beings: Throughout the history of the organized world, leadership gurus have been befuddled and confused about “how to motivate employees.”  

First it was fear-based tactics to get people to perform or move to action.   Then we tossed things at humans, “carrots and sticks.” Or, we beat them up with sticks, words, abusive behaviors.  Then there came other kinds of assessments such as “artificial intelligence” testing where people take tests to determine what motivates them as individuals.

Fear-based methods where you make people fear you to get them to do what you tell them to do, when you tell them to do it does not motivate people. People are mere automatons. Robots!  “My way or the highway!” Fear-based methods result in one thing: “short-term bitter compliance.”    

Consider the “carrots and sticks” methods of motivation.  What occurs when you toss “things” at humans?  What happens when the carrot is eaten up, or used or the thing is given?   Motivation stops and you must find another “thing” to toss at people to motivate them to reach a goal or to do something.  To perform.

Bottom line:   Your “employees” are “human beings.”  Human beings have souls and needs.   If we stop first and think about people as human beings instead of just “head count” or a “means to an end,” then we begin to understand what motivates people.   

Motivational assessments and, even carrots and sticks, or things have their place or purpose, but should not be the main means of attempting to motivate human beings.  You want to tap into intrinsic motivation by meeting needs of “respect, purpose, and trust.”  Then add “things” as incentives, especially team incentives, and even conduct tests like “artificial intelligence” testing to assess other motivational needs. 

Things may temporarily move bodies, but things do nothing to move souls.” Human beings are not animals where you “toss a bone” in hopes of getting the “human” to “jump, retrieve, run, sit, or any other action.”  Humans do not respond well to being treated as things.

Intrinsic Motivation Lasts:  When you tap into intrinsic motivation, people are internally motivated.  They work harder and longer, and with a higher level of performance and quality, because they “want to work.” Not because you are beating them up or threatening them if they do not “jump or sit or run.”   

When people are intrinsically motivated, you have tapped into personal ownership and commitment and loyalty.  People are more engaged.  They have a sense of belonging.  You light a fire you cannot put out.   

Intrinsic motivation is where you want to be, and where you must be to engage and retain people. Intrinsic motivation is a fruit of empowerment.   

Trust is a Powerful Intrinsic Motivator:   Stephen Covey in his book, The Speed of Trust, said, “There is nothing as fast as the speed of trust.”  He is right. 

When humans know they are trusted and they trust, they can make decisions quickly, act quickly, and share with others without fear of repercussion or belittlement.  Collaboration occurs and all that is good about collaboration, including continuous improvement and problem solving.   Team-orientation occurs faster and at a higher level.  People can be empowered to think and act for themselves.  Everything that is good is elevated. 

In the absence of trust, we tend to hold others at arms-length or farther.  We think and even tend to over-process things because we are not sure how others will react to what it is we are getting ready to do, or the decisions we must make.  We may procrastinate and become unwilling to act, set it aside and touch it repeatedly.   People hesitate to share with one another, holding onto information that could be valuable to team success or process improvement.   People do not learn and grow because collaboration and sharing, and resulting learning is non-existent.   People become silent, unwilling or unable to speak or share their thoughts.   

In the absence of trust, fear thrives and runs rampant.  Fear freezes all that is good, including the energy of your people and team-orientation.   In the absence of trust, execution of business moves at a slow pace much likened to trying to run through a field of cold molasses. 

In today’s world, people leave.  Your turnover rate spirals out the roof.  Bottom line your bottom line is negatively impacted. 

Nothing will motivate a human being more than trusting them to do the job and empowering them to do it, setting them free to make decisions on their own.   To trust and know that one is trusted tiers to respect and purpose.   

Trust, and the product of trust, empowerment, frees people to move! Intrinsic motivation fuel!

Empowerment is Intrinsically Motivating:   

When people feel safe to speak their minds and be the unique individuals they are, they feel a certain level of freedom.  They feel free (empowered) to express themselves, free to act and do on their own accord or in interacting with others, to use their energy, talents, and skills to help the team, family or group succeed.   

Empowered people have a higher level of self-efficacy, the knowing that “I can do this” and the “ability within my own power and in working together with the team” that it can be done. 

Whereas in the absence of trust and when human needs are not being met, these feelings of freedom and self-efficacy are suppressed or oppressed.  People are demotivated and disengaged. 

Empowerment, and all that is required to create it, intrinsically motivates people like nothing else!

Training and Consultation Available to Help You Develop an Empowered Culture:  This Empowerment blog series is not meant to be all-inclusive on what is needed to create an Empowered Culture.   Training is available either as self-paced online or live instructor led classes at your site.  Follow this link for more information at Add link.  Download the syllabus free.   Live instructor led costs are negotiable based on many factors, including location.  Reasonable and affordable rates.  Curriculum is based on years of research and proven results achieved through teaching and using the tools.   

About the Author: With over 30 years’ experience developing and leading teams in corporate and non-profit environments, Patricia Hatley is a skilled team facilitator who has a passion for teaming and an empowering style of leadership.  She is a leadership author and researcher, speaker, trainer and coach, focusing on engaging, and retaining younger generations (Gen Ys) and (Plurals or Gen Zs), in any environment and community.  Her work focuses on developing a culture conducive to engaging and retaining all people.  Her Goal is to “empower people to empower others.”  She believes that all people have a right to be treated with respect, and that developing trust, is the foundation of success today. 

She develops and delivers leadership and management training to business and industry, including serving as an Independent Contractor for community colleges.  Her work focuses on methods that work today and in the future.  A passionate and engaging speaker, she has spoken to groups and conducted training in multiple states about “5 Generations at Work: Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Gen Ys and Plurals” for business, government, and non-profit organizations.  Her methods and curriculum are proven to be successful in creating an empowered culture.

She has a Master’s of Science in Strategic Leadership (transformational & authentic leadership), a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, studied communications, and has been coached by numerous journalists, authors and educators, as well as completing many leadership programs. A former journalist, lobbyist, and public affairs specialist, she has served in a host of leadership roles spanning her career. 

Currently a national SHRM and Catawba Valley SHRM member, Pat earned her SHRM Certified Professional certification in July 2017.   Her curriculum, “5 Generations @ Work: Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Them,” has been approved for recertification credits by HRCI and SHRM. 

Her publications, based on over 10 years of research, including her graduate research project, include: “4 Generations @ Work: Leading from Conflict to Collaboration” (2012), “Three Things all People Want” (2013), Digital Grenades (2014), and “4 Generations @ Work: A Case of Empowerment” (2015). Training Module content is based on research and real-world applications and has been proven to be successful in developing empowered and trusting cultures.