The traditional Industrial Age motivational approach was to throw “things” at humans in an attempt to motivate; “carrots” they were called. This approach is still being used to a great extent. Yet, we are no longer in an Industrial Age; we are in a Knowledge Worker Age. “Carrots” do not work, and they have never worked. Actually, the theory of “throwing things at humans” in an attempt to motivate them is often referred to as “The Great Jackass Theory of Motivation.”
In our current Knowledge Worker Age people are your most valuable asset, not things. Your success depends on your ability to maximize people potential to leverage your greatest asset—PEOPLE, human beings. You maximize people potential by intrinsically motivating them to stimulate engagement and growth. You intrinsically motivate people by tapping into basic human needs.
Studies have proven that when you consistently treat people right, with respect, dignity, give them a voice, and demonstrate you value them, people place salary fourth in priority behind trust, respect, and purpose. Why? When people are intrinsically satisfied at work (human needs are met), external factors are less important. When basic human needs that give an individual intrinsic satisfaction are not met, money becomes the most important thing. Why? Money is used to buy satisfaction OFF the job. Work is just a place you go to earn the money to help you BUY satisfaction. It’s just a job! There’s little motivation, engagement, or commitment.
“Things” may temporarily move bodies to perform an action or meet a short term goal, and then the motivation stops.
On the other hand, when people are “intrinsically motivated,” the motivation is continuous, or at least until the culture or conditions change and human needs are no longer being met. Intrinsic motivation is continuous. People are more engaged, loyal, committed, work harder and longer, than they would otherwise. They work because they want to be there and they want to work. It isn’t just a job. It is a place “I want to go. I feel part of the team. I feel part of a community of human beings (every human has a need to belong to a group or community of people). I am valued and respected. I have purpose.”
Knowledge Worker Age motivation requires that we pay attention to the whole “human being” that we put into a job, not a number on an organizational chart. We must think of people in terms of the human needs that each have—body, mind, heart and spirit. “Treat me kindly and with respect. Give me a voice and the ability to express myself freely. Leverage my unique talents and skill sets. Show me you value me, and that what I am doing is helping the team and my organization succeed. Trust me to do the job you hired me to do; do not micromanage me to death. Coach me to help me learn and grow.”
All people today, especially the younger generations, look to the workplace and scream their desire to have their basic human needs met. All basic human needs tier to respect and purpose. If one of these human needs is not met, there is a huge gap in motivation and engagement.
There is little cost to meeting basic human needs, other than that of training and hiring managers for “leadership” quality as opposed to mere “management” ability. On the other hand, there is a huge cost in trying to motivate people by throwing “things” at them. The cost is not just monetary, although all the costs ultimately tier to “the total cost of doing business.”
When employees are NOT intrinsically motivated, it costs a business nearly twice as much to operate when you consider disengaged people, no collaboration, no teamwork, poor customer experience, employee turnover, customer churn…and the list goes on and on.
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