You don’t build a business.. you build people and they build a business Zig Ziglar
We have the best people I know working at EMA. I know that sounds like bragging, and maybe it is, but its also a fact.
Everyone has the sordid experience of walking into a business where the employees obviously don’t want to be there. You remember; you walk in, employees are staring into space, or talking on the phone, or talking to each other, and refusing to acknowledge your presence much less try to serve you. The term “motivated” doesn’t come to mind.
One dictionary definition of motivated is the “state of being eager to work.”
You’re not around EMA people long without realizing our folks are motivated to help.
You’ve probably had great experiences with customer service. Where you were energetically greeted with a smile, and it was obvious they were happy you were there.
If you manage or lead a business… here’s a tip:
What kind of business or organization do you want to lead? Because, in truth, it is up to you.
The Harvard Business Review published “Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model” in their July-August edition of 2008. They attempted, in a well-researched article, to “peek under the hood” of the human brain, and answer some questions about what actually motivates us.
The researchers listed four primary drivers of employee behavior:
- The Drive to Acquire: (material goods, or intangibles such as social standing)
- The Drive to Bond: (form meaningful connections with others)
- The Drive to Comprehend: (satisfy innate curiosity about the world around us, and make sense of it)
- Drive to Defend: (protect against external threats and promote justice)
We are all driven to acquire goods and or social standings that bolster our sense of well being. We experience delight when this happens, and disappointment when it doesn’t. Our assessment of this is relative; we always compare what we have with what others have.
The Drive to Bond applies not only to bonding with other people, but to organizations. People enjoy feeling that they are part of a larger good. This drive, when met, leads to positive emotions such as love and caring, and a boost in motivation when employees feel proud of belonging to the organization. This is also why very negative feelings erupt when the institution betrays them.
The Drive to Comprehend means that we want to make sense of the world around us. We become frustrated when it does not, and invigorated when it does, especially by doing meaningful work. Employees are demoralized by monotonous jobs and environments that appear senseless.
The Drive to Defend is because we naturally defend ourselves, our property, and our accomplishments. We defend our family and friends, and our ideas and beliefs. At work, this often manifests itself as feelings of security and confidence. This also explains why people resist change.
One thing that became very clear in their research, is that you can’t increase satisfying one drive at the expense of another. It doesn’t work. For instance, you can’t just pay more (drive to acquire) for boring meaningless work and expect long-term motivated employees. You have to deal with all of the drives.
“Why people work anyhow”, has been studied extensively. In 1960 MIT professor, Douglas McGregor wrote that most managers had the following assumptions:
- Humans dislike work and will avoid it if possible
- Because of this, they must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened to force them to work.
- The average person prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has little ambition, and values security above all else.
McGregor challenged those assumptions, and proposed these instead:
- Work is as natural as play or rest to human beings
- People will, on their own, exercise self-direction and self-control in service of objectives to which they are committed.
- The average person learns, under proper conditions, to not only accept but seek additional responsibility.
- A high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity is widely distributed in the population.
- Modern Industrial life under-utilizes the intellectual abilities of the average person.
McGregor’s concepts became the foundation for modern motivational techniques, and they remain so today.
Here’s some practical hints for motivating employees:
Give employees as much autonomy as possible. No one likes being micro managed.
Engender a sense of ownership to employees. When people begin referring to “my” company, and taking pride in it, you’ve come a long way.
Let everyone see the big picture, and in fact, as much as possible, let people see jobs from beginning to end. The term is “task identity.” When someone cannot see the end result of their work, they are much less motivated to work.
Involve staff in making decisions that affect them. And avoid burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations that stifle and annoy employees.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Be sure your folks know what is going on, and how their contributions contribute to the overall mission.
And perhaps most importantly.. care. Employees do not like being used, they want to know you care for them as people, not cogs in your wheel.
As Einstein famously said, “I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.” You may find this surprising, but I feel the same way about studying human motivation, marketing, and leadership. I think these studies are, in effect, trying to unravel God’s thoughts on our design.
I find myself surprised, and then, surprised that I’m surprised, to discover that good leadership, motivational, and business practices are the same concepts presented to us in the Bible and traditionally held in the Christian culture.
To list a few:
- People have inherent value, so much so that God gave His son to pay for our shortcomings.
- Since people have value, we should value them. And not for what they can do for us, but simply because of God.
- People have another drive, not listed in the Harvard Business Review, although it is alluded to. It’s knowing that we answer to a higher power, and are responsible to Him.
- Understanding these concepts, and living them, gives life meaning and purpose, far beyond business dealings.
I’m proud of the people at EMA, and once you deal with them, so will you. Call us at 770-448-4644770-448-4644 or hit any of the contact methods on the right of this page.
No One, Anywhere, is Better at Drives than we are
by the way.. I do a weekly radio program..
Driven to Business, hosted by Eddie Mayfield airs every Saturday morning at 11 on Atlanta’s Biz 1190. The program is streamed live on biz1190.com and podcast on eddiemayfield.com and itunes. Simply the best business radio in Atlanta.. Driven to Business