What Drives Your Employees?

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

What drives your employees?  If you don’t know the answer to that question, you may want to ask it.   But be ready, the answers may surprise you.   Believe it or not, good employees are motivated by much more than money or a just paycheck.   I was reminded of that again just recently, thanks to an engaging group of employees who participated in an onsite meeting facilitated at their office.

The question was succinct; “Why do you work for this company?”    We then proceeded to create a list on a whiteboard.   Their responses touched on several different motivators that reinforced why they came to work each day.   However, the responses of “money”, “paycheck”, or “it’s a job” never made the list.   In fact, no one even used a word to insinuate one of those as a reason.   It brings one to question if in fact money is even a significant component?   Of course the answer is yes it is, but only to a certain degree.   When it is all said and done, the reasons we seek out one career over another, one job vs. another job is a lot less about the financial rewards than you think. Which of course begs the question – Why is money…or some kind of monetary bonus the first thing we think of when we want to motivate an employee?

Daniel Pink was so intrigued by the idea of what motivates people he researched, authored, and titled a fascinating business book called Drive (reviewed it in a previous blog post)  The snapshot summary is money is only a motivator up to a point.   As long as the compensation is fair, additional compensation is not going to generate a higher return on investment.   Pink then defined three components that his research identified as his new model to motivate employees and it turns out that none of them involved money.

  • AutonomySome degree of freedom.
  • MasteryAbility to perfect and “master” something
  • PurposeMaking a difference       

Putting the model to a test…

If Pink is really onto something, the $100,000 question is:  How would your company respond?   Do you have a company that gravitates towards this higher level or do you have paycheck collectors?   All business owners would like to believe they don’t have any of the latter in their organization.  But unfortunately, many businesses still do.

As for the team of employees at this recent meeting, it appears this group is reinforcing the statistics Pink discerned in the research for his book.  Here is a summary of their answers…

“Belonging” –  Purpose           “Enjoy what they do, likes industry”

“Feeling of Gratitude”               “We do things right”  – Mastery

“Trust & Autonomy”                “Good Atmosphere”

“Growth Opportunities”           “Constant Learning & Change”

Although, they didn’t use Daniel Pink’s terminology verbatim, their answers directly included all three of the components Pink identified in his model.  Additionally, several of the others indirectly can be tied to them.   Without question, it is clear this group views their employment as much more than collecting a pay check.

So what do you think now?  As a business owner, how would your employees respond if they answered honestly?  If you’re an employee, how would you answer that question?  Still unsure?   If you have never seen it, carve out about 10 minutes and check out this animated video of Pink discussing his research behind “Drive”.  We promise you will find it interesting.

As always please share your thoughts in the space below.

Chris Steinlage, Kansas City Business Coach

1 thought on “What Drives Your Employees?”

  1. Kelly Boros says:

    One way to engage your employees is to have company-wide financial meetings. Showing your employees just how important their individual functions are and how they affect the company’s bottom line is a good way to better engage your employees. Break it down so that everyone can see how their jobs support the company to show them that they are in fact part of the company’s success.

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