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It’s Free, You’re Welcome

On November 12, 2018, in Dr. Todd Dewett, Editorial Advisory Board, HRExaminer, by Dr. Todd Dewett

2016 Photo of Dr. Todd Dewett on HRExaminer.com

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Being a great leader doesn’t cost a fraction of what most people think.  I’m often approached with questions about motivation, morale, and engagement.  Choose whichever label you’d like, the question is the same:  how do we get employees to feel like doing a great job?

Most practicing leaders over rely on antiquated and questionable approaches centered on compensation or some other form of awarding money or other tangible things.  These leaders have good intentions, but we all know that sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intensions.

I love to remind people who lead teams that the most effective motivational tools are free.  Great science over the last few decades has clearly demystified what makes great teams function.  There is nothing complex on the list:

Voice:  meaningful input in decision-making

Recognition:  formal or informal gratitude and appreciation when earned

Positivity:  a work culture defined by congeniality and kindness

Support:  a supervisor and colleagues willing to help and assist when needed

Opportunity:  the chance for advancement to take on more responsibility

A great boss:  one who is competent, puts the team first, and also seeks to develop you

I’m not saying that compensation doesn’t matter.  It matters a lot, but has very real limits once reasonable expectations are met.  I’m not saying people don’t enjoy bonuses, gift cards, elaborate incentive programs, or other perks.  They do.  I am saying, however, that they are often used so frequently as to lose any real motivational effect.  In some environments, they can even become entitlements.  I am saying that they are not as effective as addressing the underlying motivational needs noted above.  I am saying that if you build leaders who know how to act on these ideals, you won’t have to overpay your talent in order to get them to stay.  Real motivation isn’t about money.  It’s free, you’re welcome.
 

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