HBR highlights the relationship between company culture and employee motivation;
We’ve found that answering three questions can help transform culture from a mystery to a science: 1) How does culture drive performance? 2) What is culture worth? 3) What processes in an organization affect culture? In this article, we address each of these to show how leaders can engineer high-performing organizational cultures — and measure their impact on the bottom line.
Academics have studied why people work for nearly a century, but a major breakthrough happened in the 1980s when professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester distinguished the six main reasons why people work. We built on their framework and adapted it for the modern workplace. The six main reasons people work are: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia.
Even without redesigning processes, however, team leaders can start improving the total motivation of their employees by:
- Holding a reflection huddle with your team once a week. Teams we’ve worked with hold an hour-long huddle once a week in which each person answers three questions directed at encouraging: 1) Play: What did I learn this week? 2) Purpose: What impact did I have this week? And 3) Potential: What do I want to learn next week?
- Explaining the why behind the work of your team. One executive at a retail store told us she often introduced a new project by saying, “We have to do this because Linda [the boss] asked for it.” This was motivating through emotional pressure, which was hurting her team’s performance. So she started explaining why a project would help the customer instead.
- Considering how you’ve designed your team’s roles. Does everyone have a space to play? Think about where people should be free to experiment and make that clear. For example, a Starbucks manager told us that he lets each employee experiment with how they connect to each customer, and a bank manager we worked with said he encourages people to suggest process improvements. Then ask if everyone has the opportunity to witness the impact of their work, and think about what might help them build a stronger purpose. Finally, find out where each team member would like to be in two years — and come up with a plan to help their reach their potential.
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