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Adaptive Workforce Motivation

Silhouette on top of mountains

I was recently approached by a group that wanted to get my thoughts on a number of team leadership issues. One of the questions seemed odd to me – it was phrased something like “Describe a time when you felt you had to (or successfully) motivated your team.” The reason this seemed odd to me was I feel like I do it all the time.

The question that you should be asking yourself as a leader is, “What motivates people?”  But don’t ask it so generally unless you’re just looking for a pool of potential answers. Motivation is different from person to person, and as a leader you need to be adept at identifying an individual’s motivators and adapting your technique to individualize rewards.

Appreciation is a remarkably simple motivator, yet it’s one that I have often felt lacking in many environments. It turns out that my gut instinct was right. A recent from Tony Schwartz, Why Appreciation Matters So Much on the HBR blog network, notes that

The single highest driver of engagement, according to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson, is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40 percent of workers felt so engaged.

Appreciation costs nothing, and when it is genuine, it is noticed. Tony goes on to discuss some reasons as to why appreciation is not shown more. One that I think is overlooked is that it makes the leader feel vulnerable. To show appreciation is to indicate that one could not do it alone. While this is a pretty standard truth, actually saying it may make one feel like their ego has been dinged. Whatever the case, most of us can’t go it alone, and appreciation should be a key piece of one’s toolkit when leading and motivating teams.

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  1. Today’s Motivations « Media Meme

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