Motivate your people by helping them self-motivate

All HR specialists know this: money isn’t a reward that drives superior employee engagement. The type of motivation that really sparks creativity and makes people engaged, is motivation that comes from within. Psychologists calk this ‘intrinsic motivation.’

If you’ve read Rev up your motivation in 4 steps, you know there are four basic ways to build intrinsic motivation at work:

  • Tap into the power of self-direction
  • Set approach goals, not avoidance goals
  • Align goals to signature strengths
  • Avoid focusing too extensively on reward systems

So how can HR practitioners and L&D experts put these principles into action? Here are some practical tips for enhancing motivation in your business.

Train with an eye for self-direction

From a Human Resources perspective, it’s important to design work practices that foster self-direction. Make sure your leaders understand how to tap into employee strengths. Teach them to lead by coaching and guiding. Explain how to run goal-setting conversations and tie corporate goals to individual motivators.

Incorporate self-determination in goal setting

Let employees participate in goal setting, rather than simply giving them pre-determined goals. Be transparent when discussing how goals are determined and what the company’s needs are. Teach staff how to set their own metrics so they’re committed from the start.

Align goals to signature strengths

Goals are easier to attain if they are well-matched to an individual’s signature strengths. The process of achieving goals becomes more engaging for employees when they are able to utilise their strengths. Consider having an expert in strengths theory facilitate a workshop that will help discover hidden strengths in your people – not just with lower-level employees but with management, too.

Encourage self-determination and intrinsic motivation

Take a hard look at your current reward system for employees. Can you tweak it or revamp it entirely to eliminate extrinsic motivators and introduce more intrinsic motivation? Whilst managers may bristle at changing incentive plans, reward packages are really just the flip side of the punishment coin. What are some ways your business can encourage self-determination and intrinsic motivation among employees?

Albert Einstein once said, ‘If people are good only because they fear punishment and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.’ The good news is, people and businesses have an enormous capacity for change. They can move from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation with help and support from savvy HR teams.

About the author of this article

Eleanor has dedicated her career to teaching talented people how to use tools from positive psychology at work. She is a well-known Australian trainer and coach who has helped more than 50,000 professionals to build confidence, presence and influence at work. Find out how Eleanor can help you or your team here.

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