It’s official. A recent McKinsey  & Company report reviews best practices for motivating great performance. Numerous studies show that as long as people have adequate salaries, financial incentives don’t improve performance over more than a very short term.

So what does motivate people to dig deep, work hard and remain loyal to the organization? Three things, and they all require an investment of time on the part of leadership. Unfortunately, this investment is happening less in many work environments. From the McKinsey report:

“One HR director we interviewed spoke of their tendency to “hide” in their offices—primarily reflecting uncertainty about the current situation and outlook. This lack of interaction between managers and their people creates a highly damaging void that saps employee engagement.”

To figure out where you stand, think about each of the people you supervise. How would they rate you on the following three factors identified in the study?

Praise from immediate managers. Make it timely and specific.

Leadership attention. One-on-one conversations on issues of substance (beyond “Good morning!” or “How about those Lions?!” )

A chance to lead projects or task forces. Cross-functional work that matters builds skills, connections and job satisfaction.

Now that you’ve thought of how your people would rate you on the top three non-financial motivators, how are you going to improve their engagement? This is something that will require a long-term investment on your part. As Zig Ziglar said: “Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”


Need to motivate your people? Contact Humanergy.

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