Clearly – as we had seen in the previous lesson – the carrot and stick approach to driving performance is inadequate to ensure sustained motivated effort in team members. What then is? What motivates human beings to give their best at work, every day?
It is a critical question that every leader needs to find the response to and is also the focus of this lesson.
Getting Your Team Members to Give Their Best at Work Everyday – II: Workplace Relationships
This lesson is in a video format
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Getting your team to consistently overachieve on their numbers requires them to put in more than the 100% that they are currently functioning at. It requires them to put in that discretionary effort that will move their productivity even higher.
And, complicating matters for you as a leader, if you want to move performance to super-performance, you need to first get your team members to accept your stretch goals. Remember, what you are trying to achieve here is get your team members to accept an even more challenging goal than they are currently working towards. And, not only do you want to them to accept it, you want them to be happy accepting such goals. Disgruntled employees are seldom productive.
Getting your team members to accept tougher goals than they are currently on, and be happy doing so, and then getting them to put in that discretionary effort to meet this stretched goal; can any leader realistically manage all this?
In our experience of having worked with thousands of leaders across industry verticals, we have found that many leaders possess a fairly limited view of what moves human beings to, well, move mountains. Many leaders act as though merely setting stretch goals, promising a reward, and then threatening some action for non-achievement will get people to comply.
Remember, no material reward is ever going to get you discretionary effort. That requires meeting a completely different set of needs that we humans possess. Those of us familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will no doubt validate this point.
The greatest instances of progress in history have almost always involved human beings going way beyond the call of duty, often at great peril and cost to self, in pursuit of a dream.
Think, Columbus and his men sailing across an unchartered and perilous ocean in search of a sea route to the Orient. Think, the engineers hammering away at their keyboards in garages worldwide, trying to build the next tech giant. Think, Dashrath Manjhi, ‘The Mountain Man’ carving a 110-metre long road through a hillock using only a hammer and a chisel, to ensure that no one else met with same fate that befell his wife.
Study what drives these people to give the task at hand their everything, and you will decipher the code to getting your team members to willingly accept and give their everything to achieving those stretch goals, every day.
As can be seen in the examples above, when people go above the call of duty, there is generally a higher cause involved. At least, a perceived one. Columbus and his men probably believed they were on a course to making sea travel easier for all those who followed in their wake. Or maybe it was a quest for glory- to be a part of history itself if they succeeded? Tech engineers who ignore the clock and personal welfare, in their quest to build the next big thing, genuinely believe they’re on to something that will forever change the way the world works. Or perhaps it to prove, if only to themselves, that they’re the finest minds on the face of the planet? Dashrath Manjhi toiled for 22 years to carve out that road, in the face of mockery and taunts. Whether he sought to honour the memory of his beloved wife, or to redeem himself for not being able to do more to save her, or to simply do what he could to make somebody else’s life easier is anyone’s guess.
What is the nature of these motivations, if not psychological? It’s safe to say that these undertakings go well beyond the material or self-preservation needs and appeal to higher, deep-set psychological needs that we humans possess. It is the pursuit of these needs – and their fulfilment- that drives people to give the task at hand their all.
When leaders can provide opportunities for people to satisfy these psychological needs, they will find their team members willingly going beyond the call of duty in the endeavour to meet these goals. They will find people engaged in their work, fully consumed by the task at hand.
They will find people putting in that discretionary effort and pulling of borderline superhuman feats that will propel you to levels of success hitherto unimagined. The intrinsic engagement needs we had mentioned in the previous lesson and in the title of this one refer precisely to these deep-set psychological needs that all humans possess.
Scientific studies have validated the assertions presented in this lesson. Organisations, where leaders focus on helping team members meet the needs that we’re discussing here have been known to outperform peer companies less focussed on these.
For example, studies have indicated that organisations, where people find these needs of theirs are met, outperform peers between 47% and 200% on various business metrics. Other studies have shown that organisations, where leaders are focussed on the employee’s psychological needs are 43% more productive as compared to rival organisations. Attrition rates in such organisations also tend to be lower.
The economic case for people feeling psychologically fulfilled is clearly beyond doubt.
Here then is your challenge as a leader: you need to understand what these deep-set psychological needs are, and then find ways to meet these needs. It is the key to getting your team members to happily accept stretch goals and then put in that discretionary effort to meet these.
In subsequent lessons, we will explore the nature of these needs and how you as a leader can meet them. For now, scroll down to take the quiz.
i. “Employee Commitment”. Susan de la Vergne. 2005
ii. “Employee Commitment Remains Unchanged….”. Watson Wyatt Worldwide. 2002. Retrieved 2006-11-07
iii. Lockwood, Nancy R. “Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role.”