Can Today’s Employees be Motivated?

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Blog, Culture, Employees, High Road Leadership, Leadership, Teams, Uncategorized

Today’s employee is not motivated by money or title.
They find their inspiration to contribute in Meaning and Culture.

Hugh’s Mistake

In a training session on High Road® Leadership, “Hugh” an executive of a large major employer, complained about his employee’s motivation or lack of it.


As we delved into his issue, Hugh got more specific and finally admitted that throughout his large team communication was terrible and he could not understand why. He admitted that he was treating his employees like they were from his generation. However, most of the people he supervised were much older than him.


When he took his position, Hugh stopped all face-to-face meetings because he thought they were a waste of time and he preferred email communications. Hugh grew up as an independent-minded child who did everything on his own and therefore preferred working alone. However, he quickly realized [through my coaching and probing questions] that his employees had a different way of working and that they needed to meet with him and with each other regularly.


Hugh reinstituted meetings to help all his employees feel included. This solved much of his team’s communication and morale problems. With my help, he found an insight:

  • Certain employees are motivated by having a personal face-to-face relationship with their leader.


Each time I deliver a leadership presentation, I field intriguing questions that have universal impact. I will share one such question with you, and it relates to Hugh’s issue.


“I have a hard time finding good employees to replace the ones I have now, who seem unmotivated. How do I ‘light a fire’ under these employees so I can avoid unnecessary and costly turnover?”


Employee Motivation Starts with Your Culture

Start by seeing motivation as something both within your control and outside of your control. You cannot motivate anyone; you can only create a work culture where the employee is inspired to do their best and contribute more.


Motivation is up to the employee. It is like an internal hidden light switch. You cannot see it, but by paying attention you can tell when it is turned on and turned off. You too have that switch that you have a difficult time turning on at times.


Leadership Insight

Today’s employee sees their current and future job not in terms of the duties but as a position within a desirable and nurturing corporate culture. McKinsey & Company Consulting studied 77 American firms and found that the NUMBER ONE criterion for a great employer is “values and culture,” with “having exciting challenges” as the third highest criteria! The same study found that a great job is defined first by “freedom and autonomy,” and secondly by “exciting challenges.”


Leader’s Tactics that Improve Motivation in Your Employees

My recommended solutions to inspire your human assets and retain them before they leave for greener pastures are:

  1. Create a Clear Definition of Your Cultural Ideals. They need to be so explicit that every employee is hyper-aware of their existence within your company. Make them available to everyone. Solicit for specific feedback from anyone who notices when people are not living up to those ideals.
  2. Revisit Your Mission with Employees on a Regular Basis. I notice that in nearly every company that needs my help, their employees are usually unable to articulate what the mission is and even worse, cannot describe how they fit into that mission.
  3. Conduct Formal and On-Going Employee Surveys. This can be accomplished with easy-to-use survey tools. Companies that obtain unfiltered feedback generate a wealth of knowledge on what is working and what is not. They also benefit with low turnover and high levels of trust.
  4. Get to Know Each Employee as an Individual and Especially Understand the Generation They Are shaped By.  Each generation in your workplace has its disparate needs and set of values that define what they seek in their work. This has grown dramatically with employees of the creative generation.
  5. Stop Doing Performance Evaluations. Transform your performance review efforts into a day-to-day feedback mechanism for fostering open communication with each employee. By doing this, when the performance reviews take place, there are few surprises and even fewer hurt feelings. Managers and supervisors will stop avoiding doing those &%$@# reviews.
  6. Use a Behavior Assessment Tool for More Insights into Employee’s Values. This tool provides insights into the tangible and intangible item that impact each employee’s motivations or desire to contribute.