So, you’re an entrepreneur and you have a driving passion to make big changes in the world.

You found a team to support you, but wait….you didn’t realize that their fire doesn’t burn as bright as yours. They like your idea, but when a better position rolls around with another company, off they go. You know you can’t pursue your dream alone. There’s only 1440 minutes in a day and you’re realizing that no matter how hard you try, you can’t create more time. You definitely need help so what’s the secret to keeping your staff engaged and motivated so they’ll stick around?

The key is motivation. But, not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Similar to the trend in medical treatment becoming more personalized, the way you manage your team should also be an individualized approach. Trying to motivate everyone in the same way will fall short of your intended outcome.

Every single employee is unique. What gets one person “psyched” may completely bore another.

If someone is an extrovert, placing them at a desk working alone all day is torture and their work will reflect it.

Some may want flexibility and some thrive on strict schedules. Some want full support and others crave autonomy.

Every single employee is unique. What gets one person “psyched” may completely bore another.”

Identifying Your Team’s Personal Motivators

In their book What Motivates Me, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton identify five main types of people and the 23 factors that motivate each type. Their data was collected from 850,000 interviews over the past decade.

The five identities include Achievers, Builders, Caregivers, Reward Driven and Thinkers. Of course, many of us are a blend of identities, but we each have one type that overshadows the others. Once you have identified the identity of each person under your employ, you can take advantage of the factors that motivate them to help them be their best self at work.

Victor Lipman, a contributor to Forbes magazine with two decades of experience working for Fortune 500 companies, also promotes a more personalized motivational approach.

In his Forbes article of March 2013, he recommends that managers “align individual economic interests with company performance”, “take a genuine interest in the future path of an employee’s career and work-life balance”, “listen”, and of course, “do unto others as you would have done unto you”.

The SCARF model, formulated by David Rock, PhD, the Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, targets the top five social rewards and threats that affect an individual’s motivation in the workplace. It consists of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness.

Status relates to a person’s relative importance to others.

Certainty is about being able to predict the future.

Autonomy provides a sense of control over events.

Relatedness is the sense of connection and safety with others and fairness is the perception of being treated justly.
This model, based on neuroscience, helps employers identify what drives each individual employee’s behavior so they can create personalized incentives.

Creating an Environment for Motivation

When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a teacher, but somewhere along the way I became sidetracked and went into medicine. I spent much of my young life caring for a chronically ill father and then found myself intrigued with science. Medicine, therefore, made the most sense for me to pursue. I became a Physician Assistant (PA) and loved the field, but soon found that something was still missing.

I now know that, based on Gostick and Elton’s model, it was the Builder inside me that still needed to be satisfied, the part of me that’s motivated by teamwork and the need to develop (not just heal) others.

In order to feel fulfilled, I found avenues for teaching within the context of my medical practice. I volunteered to teach staff in-services and led patient support groups. Rather than become frustrated at not being able to express the Builder side of my personality, I found outlets within my role as a PA to help motivate me.

Fortunately, the doctors and administrators I worked for were wise enough to acknowledge my need to express myself in ways other than as a clinician. They gave me the freedom to develop this other side of my personality and embraced it. It was, of course, a win-win for everyone involved.

Similarly, it’s vital that you as an employer give your employees the chance to grow and reach their full potential while they help you pursue your dream.

Start Fine Tuning

Meet with each of your employees individually and listen to what they have to say. Ask questions.

  • What do they like about their job?
  • What don’t they like?
  • What would make it better?
  • Do they feel motivated? If not, what would motivate them?
  • Are they inspired?
  • Do they feel like they’re making a significant contribution?
  • Do they have ideas about other ways they could be of benefit to your company and help you reach your goals faster or in a different way?

Learn about the various identities and drivers of each of your employees and then together, fine-tune their job so that it capitalizes on their personal motivators.

Think about how you can replace some of their present duties with others that are more suited to their identity type.

Perhaps an employee who is struggling in one position would flourish in another position within his department or even in another.

Perhaps someone stuck in a cubicle would be just the right person for going out and speaking to people about your mission.

Once you’ve made the necessary adjustments for your employee, be sure to follow-up and ask for feedback.

Do this often and be willing to keep making any necessary changes. It’s always much more advantageous for you to keep an employee happy so they’ll stick around for the long haul rather than waste your time training someone just to have them leave because you didn’t take  time to keep them personally motivated.

Final Words

If you are truly passionate about making a difference in this world, start with making a difference in yourself as an employer.  As Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Be a role model, a conscious employer who cares for and respects the lives of each one of your team members.  You will earn their respect and long-term loyalty. Don’t hold back. Make the effort. Give your staff a chance to be their very best selves and ultimately, you will reap the benefits.  

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