What Motivates Your Employees and Why It Matters?

When it comes to motivation in the workplace, the question is not whether your team members are motivated, but why they are motivated, says Susan Fowler, a senior consulting partner with the Ken Blanchard Companies and author of the new book “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does.”

Fowler recently spoke with business leader and blogger Skip Prichard, who blogs at SkipPrichard.com. Here are some of Fowler’s thoughts on motivation from that conversation:

Understanding Motivational Differences

“The energy and impetus a person brings to any action can be qualitatively different. Some reasons people are motivated tend to promote well-being for themselves and others – and unfortunately, some reasons don’t. Motivation that comes from choosing to do something is different from motivation that comes from having to do it. Motivation generated from values, purpose, love, joy or compassion is different from motivation generated from ego, power, status or a desire for external rewards. As with friends, it isn’t how many friends you have, it is the quality and types of friendships that matter.”

Uncovering Each Worker’s Motivation

“Managers can guide people through a conversation that helps individuals explore their feelings related to their task, goal, or situation and reveals their current motivational outlook. Do they have a negative or positive sense of well-being? Listen to clues in their language. Watch their non-verbal body language. (Do they use phrases such as, ‘I have to’ or ‘I get to?’ Do they appear defeated, defiant and defensive or inspired and joyful?)

Motivation and Money

“There is a large and ever-growing body of research demonstrating that more than results, creativity and sustained productivity suffer when people are motivated to act by money as a reward. The individual suffers, too. They do not experience a sense of well-being. Money is like junk food motivation. You get an immediate spike of energy, but the suboptimal motivation can’t sustain your energy for long – you crash. Healthy alternatives, such as being motivated through developed values and a noble sense of purpose, are shown to generate positive energy, vitality and well-being that can be sustained over time.”