UNLOCKING MOTIVATION PART 9: 7 STEPS TOWARDS EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Welcome to the final instalment of Unlocking Motivation. Over the course of these nine blogs, we have explored motivation in the workplace, personal development, coaching, and the need for engagement in modern business, all interconnected by the principles of the Motivational Maps. We’ve looked at content from Mapping Motivation, Mapping Motivation for Coaching, and Mapping Motivation for Engagement. In this final article, rather than simply recapping, I’d like to take you through one last model to help you on your journey with motivation and engagement.
I mentioned in the last article that there is a seven step process towards engagement. I want to share these seven steps now and break them down a little for you.
- What is employee engagement and why is it important?
This is not just for ‘buy in’ at senior level. Everyone down to the grassroots must understand what engagement is and why it is valuable (and beneficial to them, too, because most people, save for masochists, would like to enjoy what they do).
- Where are we now?
You need to get an accurate assessment of where you are in terms of engagement. However, we need to be careful how we do this, as surveys can be highly misleading, if not erroneous. For one thing, they can be grossly inaccurate because the majority of employees will answer in the way they think they should answer, not with total honesty. Secondly, they usually are a massive, massive cost. If you really want to determine how engaged are your employees currently are, then you need to do so indirectly. Engagement can be very difficult to measure, whereas disengagement has far more obvious symptoms:
“Measuring sickness and absenteeism levels are a very clear way of measuring engagement, as well of course as measuring loss. There are many aspects to this but David Bowles makes the point that ‘clear evidence . . . would support what some long-established theories have put forward that absenteeism and similar behaviours are an effort by the workers to “level the playing field,” to make up for what is perceived to be an imbalance’. Here specifically Bowles is referring to huge disparities in pay and remuneration and staff’s perception of its unfairness – leading to their disengagement.” – Mapping Motivation for Coaching
So, the first step to measuring engagement is to consider levels of disengagement. What are your levels of sick-days and absenteeism? What are the productivity levels of employees like? Are people working to what you believe their max-capacity is or well under?
The next step is to try to measure their energy levels, as energy is a far better indicator of engagement. To do this, we recommend using the Organisational Motivational Map. Quite apart from its massive utility and ability to work at team levels as well as organisational, the great advantage about using the Organisational Motivational Map is that it is virtually impossible to ‘game’: there would be no point in doing so anyway, since the questions don’t lend themselves to internal politics. Here we will have a definitive (albeit temporary, as motivators change over time) fix on the energy levels and direction of the organisation. In addition, compared to an annual survey, it’s cheap as chips.
- What will be the measures?
When you are looking to increase engagement, you need to think about what your measures for success are. Is it less absent-days? Greater productivity? Greater staff energy and happiness? What is the most important metric for you? We should say profitability is a very poor metric in this regard, as it is really a narrative of ‘We only care about money’ that will not resonate with staff and makes a very low-grade statement. In addition, profitability can often be pursued to the extent that staff cut backs, downsizing, and streamlining can become harmful to customer and staff experience. Whilst there are many valid reasons to cut the ‘bloat’ in an organisation, taken to extremes (as it often is), it will harm the organisation’s integrity.
- How will you gain ‘buy in’?
As I mentioned in our last article, in order for engagement to be successfully implemented and become a reality in your organisation, you need to have buy-in at every level, including the very top. If you don’t, it will inevitably fail. So, you need to deploy strategies to make sure that you get full buy-in at senior level. Not just an ‘Okay, but you manage it and I’m not sparing any resources’, but a ‘I want to implement this now, what do you need?’
We have talked extensively about the merits of engagement, not just at the level of motivation and satisfaction, but also for the bottom line, which is inevitably the language most senior people in organisations understand best. You need to showcase these facts and figures and make a compelling case for why engagement could solve several problems with one lick of paint.
- Identify areas for action: what will you do?
This one is fairly self-explanatory, however, there is a deeper level to it when we consider each individual. When we determine motivation / energy levels by doing a Motivational Map, there are broadly speaking four quadrants people can fall into. Remember, every Map profile is unique and determines what motivates people. However, it does not determine skill levels. You have Creator motivator as your number one, but this might be a new discovery for you, so you haven’t fully harnessed and trained your creative abilities yet. In the light of this, the four quadrants give us an interesting strategic view of the people in our organisation when we also cross-reference it with what we estimate their skill-levels to be:
High Motivation / Low Skills
These staff-members need to be trained (or recruited if you are using this tools for those purposes). They have the motivation and energy, which is all-important, but they maybe need to harness their skills. Some of these people might also need to be re-located in the organisation. For example, if their Maps profile has revealed new drives that aren’t being met by their current work, then they are probably best suited elsewhere where their motivational needs are being met. This will increase their engagement levels as they will feel like they are being invested in.
High Motivation / High Skills
These are your stars. But don’t get complacent! You need to coach, mentor and retain these people and incentivise them. Think how many companies let go of their best people without so much as a whimper of resilience. You have probably witnessed it many times. There was a story in a company I encountered a while ago where a PA, we’ll call her Margaret, was working for one of the senior managers, we’ll call him John; Margaret was really was more than a PA and working across the entire business creating value. She was still on a very minimal salary, the same in fact since she had joined the company many years ago. She had asked, in the light of her new responsibilities and commitment to the company for many years, that her salary be increased to reflect that. Margaret’s request was pretty modest in the grand scheme. HR flatly said no: they were not giving out pay-rises, John would not give her a pay rise. So, Margaret handed in her resignation and accepted a generous offer from another company. John burst into the HR office a few days later. ‘Why didn’t you tell me Margaret wanted to leave?’ he fumed. HR had not even consulted him. ‘She was invaluable. We’ll never replace her. I would have given up part of my own bloody salary to keep her on!’
John showed wisdom here, though sadly it came too late as he had been deceived by his own Human Resources department. He knew that Margaret was a highly motivated and skilled individual and the company should have retained her at all costs, and was even prepared to sacrifice part of his own (rather larger) salary to make it happen. How many managers could actually say they’d do the same?
Low Motivation / High Skills
Low motivation yet highly skilled is also in the retain quadrant. However, if the issues with motivation are not resolved, these individual can become extremely costly to the organisation, so it is important to boost those energy levels and get them motivated!
Low Motivation / Low Skills
These are employees that potentially need to be released. If they have no motivation, their heart is not in it. This would be a fixable issue, if they had skills that were invaluable and were good at what they do. I should note that ‘high skills’ and ‘low skills’ is not referring to the intellectual standing of the skill. For example, business strategy versus administrative work. It is referring to how good someone is at that particular skill. People who are very good at administration, or telephone sales, or bricklaying – depending on what industry you’re in – are just as valuable as strategy and senior finance management. You need every element to make a business work.
So, the low motivated and low skilled individual is bringing nothing to the table. In a way, however, that is not the real reason to release them, however. It is actually the best thing for them. They are most likely not happy, stuck in a rut, and by releasing them you are giving them a new opportunity to rebuild their life. Letting people go is never easy nor should ever be glorified, but it is necessary and there are many people who have been fired from jobs that, looking back, say it was the best thing that ever happened to them. I appreciate this is not the case for everyone, and sometimes being fired can be devastating and have serious consequences, but ultimately, one must act in the interests of the whole organisation.
- How and what will you implement?
Now that you have the data, and a sense of the individuals and where they stand, it’s time to define what you will implement to make changes and how. In other words, create a plan for engagement.
- How will you measure and evaluate your plan?
Again, you need to consider what the metrics of success are. Is it increased employee-energy levels, increased productivity. What plans do you have to improve their abilities and performance further?
Thank you for coming on this motivational journey with me! I hope these articles have been of some use to you and provided you with insight about how you might go about increasing your own motivation levels and the motivation levels of those around you.
I have provided a window into the world of Motivational Maps, what we’re about, and what we do. It is my belief that we can all benefit from understanding our inner drives and working in environments and with people that feed our motivators and energy rather than draining it.
If you have any thoughts or questions about this series, please feel free to contact Marie@marieballconsulting.com
Thank you & stay motivated!
If you want to read more about Motivational Maps and unlocking the secrets of engagement, then you can find Mapping Motivation for Engagement at the Routledge website.
By James Sale – 2019