The truth behind what inspires and motivates us to do our best work

The truth behind what inspires and motivates us to do our best work

Discover how to leverage the most powerful employee motivator for today’s workforce

We often assume that people are motivated by external factors such as pay increases, bonuses, or cool benefits or perks. But did you know that inspiring and motivating your staff is actually much simpler than that? Research shows that the number one factor that drives us to do our best work is not an external one. Motivation is actually intrinsic, and the most powerful employee motivational driver of all is generated by you, as a manager or leader. Here’s how to leverage one of the best, yet most underutilised, engagement tools: employee recognition. And we’re not talking about the kind of recognition that comes in a pay packet, but the kind that doesn’t cost anything to give!

Why is employee recognition so powerful?

There are many reasons behind recognition being a key employee motivator. First, receiving recognition from a manager makes us feel valued, seen and heard for our contributions to the organisation. Which, in turn, taps into our deep human need to feel significant through productive means, such as our professional pursuits. This is an extremely powerful driver for all of us.

Recognition also triggers dopamine, the chemical responsible for making us feel good. Dopamine is the brain’s reward system. It generates motivation, a sense of achievement and it pushes us to move forward.

Not convinced that recognition can be this powerful when it comes to generating engagement? Take a moment to think over your professional journey. Was there any point during which a manager’s words ignited a spark or encouraged you to strive to do your best work? I experienced this myself as part of my work with the brilliant Jo Taylor, MD of Let’s Talk Talent. These are powerful moments, and remembering how they made you feel could help you think of ways to ignite the same sparks in your team members.

What’s the best way to recognise people?

In these recessionary times, the beauty is that recognition doesn’t cost anything, and yet still holds the power to inspire and motivate us to do our best work. While leaders and managers could benefit from recognising their employees more often, improving engagement levels without creating additional costs, there is a catch. It has to be done in an authentic way.

In order for your praises to foster motivation or have a positive impact on staff’s energy levels and wellbeing, it has to ring true. It’s also important to get to know your people and recognise them in a way that suits their needs. Not everyone wants to be praised in front of the whole team, whilst others may find a quiet thank you a little lacking. Recognition is a deeply personal thing. It is more effective when it’s done immediately following a specific project, action or behaviour, and always has to come from an honest place.

Now that you know employee recognition has the power to ignite great sparks, go ahead and use this powerful tool to its full potential, so you can inspire and engage your people every day!

If you’d like to find more ways to create motivation, don’t hesitate to contact us at Imagine Beyond. Or read our series on Entrepreneurial Leadership for additional tips on how to adopt a more authentic leadership style.

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