Motivation in the Workplace

Increase motivation in the workplace: pay attention to "inner work life!"

Want your workers to work harder?

It’s really not that difficult. Give them meaningful work, engage their creativity, treat them with respect, and pay them a fair wage. In short, nourish their spirit, mind, heart and body.

Do all that and most workers will thrive. So will the organizations for which they work!

The leaders of unsuccessful companies either don’t know this, or, if they do know it, refuse to abide by it. They believe that all workers care about are salary, benefits, and perks; or the possibility of being fired. They hope to motivate their workers by giving them "stuff."

Motivation in the workplace and Inner Work Life

The CEO’s and managers of successful companies know better. They know that motivation is about more than giving or taking away "stuff."

While salary and benefits are important, managers and team leaders know workers are motivated most by their “inner work life,” a term coined by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in their book “The Progress Principle .”

“Inner work life” refers to the way workers look at what happens to them, and how they feel about it. It’s how they make sense of what goes on at work.

Does what happens inspire them, or does it discourage them?

Inner work life is “inner” because it goes on inside each worker. It’s “work’ because it arises in the workplace and is what people do. And it’s “life” because it is an ongoing, inevitable part of the human experience at work every day.

Successful leaders know their workers want to use their talent and creativity to contribute to worthwhile goals.

They also know workers want to feel good about making progress towards those goals. When these needs are met regularly, the level of motivation in the workplace is high.

How do successful leaders improve motivation?

Effective leaders pay deliberate and constant attention to these two inner needs of their workers. To meet their workers’ need to contribute to worthwhile projects, they

  • Communicate clearly how work assignments help the organization meet its commitments to its customers
  • Listen closely to workers’ concerns
  • Answer workers' questions
  • Ask workers for their suggestions
  • Give workers autonomy in meeting goals
  • Let workers know they will be available during the project.

Second, to meet workers' needs to feel good about making progress in their work, leaders

  • Give workers assignments with clear goals
  • Avoid moving workers on and off of projects
  • Don’t change project goals once work is started

Workers become discouraged when they are unable to complete assignments they believe in and in which they have invested time and energy.

Third, to meet workers’ needs for emotional support, respect, and a feeling of belonging, effective leaders

  • Recognize and acknowledge workers’ progress on projects
  • Ask workers for their input when problems arise
  • Include workers in finding solutions and making decisions

The influence of supervisors on motivation in the workplace

Finally, successful leaders monitor the extent to which their own behaviors interfere with worker’s progress towards their goals.

The reason cited most often by skilled workers who leave to pursue their careers elsewhere is the failure of their supervisors to give them enough encouragement and recognition or to show them enough respect.

Organizations benefit when their leaders pay attention to the inner work life of their workers.

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Workplace Motivation

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