As the owner of a small business, you are completely invested in the success of your endeavour. Your passion and drive have allowed you to help many people with your products and services. This success has taken your business to the next level.
Now you have to hire staff to keep your business running and growing. This means new territory as you become a manager and a boss.
The key question for you in this new capacity is how to imbue your new employees with the same passion and drive that you have for your business. How can you get employees invested in your business goals?
Sources of Motivation
Many business leaders, psychologists and organisational theorists have spilt a lot of ink on this topic. There are two ways that managers tend to motivate employees:
- One is by providing external motivators in the form of punishments and rewards.
- The other is to create an inner commitment to the goals of the organisation in each employee.
The former will probably work in the short-term, but if you want sustained motivation, you need employees who are invested in and committed to your business goals.
The carrot and the stick
Punishments keep your employees in line because they fear for their jobs. Incentives drive employees to want the reward, not the achievement that earns it. People resent the hand the wields the whip and the hand that doles out treats. And you have to worry about motivating your team each and every day.
External motivators send a powerful message to your employees that you don't trust them to do their job under their own steam. It assumes they have no investment in the business and everyone gets a little weary and disheartened. Your employees might do what you want them to do, but they will do it to achieve their own goals.
The 'external' carrot and stick approach fails in the long run. It doesn't matter whether you use positive or negative reinforcement to motivate behaviours: incentives and punishments won't get your employees to take on your business goals as their own.
What employees really want
People might say they are motivated by money, and yes, a good salary and recognition for good work are important. What organisation psychologist Frank Herzberg has shown, however, is that people are actually more motivated by internalised goals and values than they realise.
Many people would sacrifice external rewards for the sake of a role they can really buy and bite into. And when people care, they perform well.
How to create dedicated team
Instead of wielding power over your employees, your job is to cast a vision of what your business does and can do and invite people to own that vision. So, how do you do this?
Give your team a voice
Good leaders don't simply top-load goals onto an organisation. If you want to get employees invested in your business goals, then you need to invest in theirs. Company goals should be collaborative.
For example, if you work with your staff to set a goal of increasing sales by ten percent in the coming year, then everyone can commit to specific actions that they agree are both aspirational and achievable.
As a leader, you facilitate the process of goal setting, but the goals themselves should surface from the aspirations and front-line experiences of the team. By doing this, you create a shared vision for your organisation.
Once the goals are set, you can work with your team to develop a plan of action for achieving them. Rather than barking instructions you work together to decide who is best suited to what, and what collaborations will accomplish the goals best.
By doing so you demonstrate trust and you give your entire team ownership over the success of the business.
As the leader, you'll want to have periodic check-ins with key members of your team, but you don't want to micromanage their activities. You want to delegate tasks, point the team in the right direction and let them cross the goal-line on their own.
If the goals and the work is shared, then the results need to be shared too: you need to be transparent about how the business is doing.
Trust means assigning responsibility and accountability, so staff need to know when they're not doing enough or need to change tack. This shouldn't be about blame, but reassessment, refactoring and improving.
You should also share the joy of good news when things are going right.
When you trust your staff to achieve organisational goals, you do not need to nickel and dime them about details. If an employee is getting results, then it does not matter whether they took a long lunch.
Allow people to be flexible with their time and work when it is best for them. A person who has invested in your vision for the business will not need monitoring: they'll get the work done.
A happy workplace for you and your staff
Let's go back to the beginning. You started your business because you felt you had something valuable to offer your customers. What you didn't do is set out to micromanage employees and wield power over them.
Employees want to be trusted team members who can get the job done. They don't want to be slaves to a time sheet or performance metrics - they want the autonomy and trust to do the best work they can.
Project a powerful vision, inspire your team, listen to them and above all trust them. If you do, you'll create a happy and effective work environment and you'll get employees invested in your business goals.