I go to a lot of CEO events. I always find it interesting to hear what fellow companies are going through. Plus there are usually free drinks.
Consistently over the years, I’ve heard this gripe time and time again from other CEOs:
“Every now and then, it feels like some of my employees just aren’t into the job as much as I am… [ramble about lazy employees].”
Some employees just don’t seem to be as motivated as their bosses.
On one hand, I’m a huge believer in the ability to create a culture where teammates love their jobs and find some level of fulfillment from them.
I’ve found employees often struggle to remain motivated when company leaders pay lip service to caring about their team, but make decisions that show little regard for the success of the individual coworkers.
I was recently influenced by Reid Hoffman’s recent book, The Alliance, about how to recruit, manage, and maintain employees.
He says the attitudes of both employers and employees is important:
- Employers and employees need to think of their relationships as mutually-beneficial
- Whenever either side of that benefit breaks down, the alliance breaks down
It’s easy for employers to think only the employees’ attitudes matters, and vice versa. But for things to change, both parties need to change their attitude.
How can you boost motivation and get your employees excited again?
I found Dan Pink’s TED Talk “The Puzzle of Motivation” very inspiring.
He says the main drivers of employee motivation are:
- Mastery: the ability to be great at what you do
- Autonomy: the ability to do that activity with as much control as possible
- Purpose: the feeling that your activity connects to some goal you care about
Great leaders can drive Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose into the organization and truly listen to what success means for their teammates.
But it’s not always easy or obvious what to do.
All of that brings me to my answer to the CEO complaint that I began with.
If you think your employees aren’t engaged enough:
- Be a better leader AND
- Suck it up. You have a lot more to gain from this company – emotionally and financially – than your employees, so you should expect you’re the one that will care about it the most
While none of us want to run companies where our employees feel like it’s “just a job,” the reality is for many, it is “a job” and there’s more to their life than work. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to truly understand your team and come to them on their terms.