Motivating teams - team power huddle

You don’t build a business, you build the people and then people build the business


-Zig Ziglar

Organisational Culture is tricky to define and takes time and effort to build, but can be a serious motivator for employees. If you get it right it can be one of the best growth stimulators your organisation will experience.

Prof Michael D. Watkins (Harvard, IMD Switzerland) defines organisational culture as a moving target made up of the patterns of behaviour; shared process of “sense-making”; and the stories, values and rituals that take hold within organisations.

At Transcend, we agree with that definition and challenge leaders to make it the bedrock of their organisational design and development.

A strong culture attracts people to your organisation and helps to retain them. Tapping in to what motivates your team and creating a culture to support that can really improve your performance.

Google has been synonymous with positive culture for years, and set the tone for many of the perks and benefits that startups are increasingly known for. Free meals, employee trips and parties, financial bonuses, open presentations by high-level executives, gyms, a dog-friendly environment and so on. Googlers are known to be driven, talented and among the best of the best. However, these kind of perks will not always be right (or indeed possible) for every organisation to implement.

What motivates employees?

In the 1980s 2 professors (Edward Deci and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester, NY) established the six main reasons why people work. They determined these to be play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. Since then, further studies have shown that the first three motives tend to increase performance, while the latter three hurt it.

Play – doing something you enjoy is the strongest motivator!

Purpose – you often value the outcome of your actions if not the work itself.

Potential – frequently, you value the indirect outcomes, such as achieving a long term career or other goal

On the flip side, there are some motivations which have a negative impact on performance.

Emotional Pressure – emotions (such as guilt or shame) cause you to do something

Econmonic Pressure – you seek rewards such as overtime or you want to avoid punishment

Inertia – usually a habit for which you cannot identify a cause and the most debilitating to overall performance

Harvard Business Review undertook a culture study in both the airline and grocery industries. It showed that companies motivating employees more through play, purpose and potential (and less through emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia) produced better customer outcomes. This had an ultimate effect on organisation performance. In support of this, Transcend has experience across many industries that shows how organisations attempt to foster a strong culture through motivation in different ways – some with positive impacts, others without – it certainly is not ‘one size fits all’

Tapping into the right motivation

Your day to day processes affect the motivation of your staff.  In a high-performing culture, those processes maximise motivation and promote growth. Your management team must demonstrate and encourage the right kind of behaviour. This sounds simple, but it is often difficult to define the ‘right’ behaviour and is even more difficult to achieve it consistently.

A culture that promotes flexibility and creativity will adapt to new situations and opportunities easily. This may mean less of a focus on tactical performance which is easier to measure.

5 ways to motivate your workforce

Encourage curiosity and creativity in the workforce.  If opportunities are there for employees to create new ideas, growth will be natural.  Attract their interest and keep them excited. If you never challenge your team, they may remain stagnant. Getting the job done will keep things ticking over, but growth comes from excellence and innovation.

Emphasise shared values and common goals to stimulate purpose. Change jobs into callings with a common purpose, behavioural expectations around decision making and a shared ethos that contributes to the whole organisation.

Empower employees with great role profiles that encourage them to manage their time, wider company knowledge and an understanding of how their role fits in with other people in the business.  Toyota rotates employee roles in factories so that each person can see how their work joins up with their colleagues’ roles.

Focus on long term goals for individual employees so they have a clear idea of how they are working towards their own purpose. Focusing on coaching them and providing the right sguidance will help demonstrate that as they support the organisation, the organisation will support them.

Set reasonable goals to remove unnecessary pressure from economic or emotional demands. This motivates employees in a positive way, provides a sense of achievement, improves performance and increases overall contribution.

The public sector, small businesses, education and corporates all face the challenge to do ‘more with less’. Effectively motivating employee’s to improve performance makes you more efficient and also reduces costs from staff turnover.

For more information on how culture change has improved overall performance in two different organisations, please read:

For more information on how culture change can improve overall performance read:

Quadrangle Case Study on how culture and performance management can influence effective growth

Culture change and effective transformation with multiple team consolidation at Sheffield County Council

Great culture examples: Twitter

Twitter employee’s love the company’s culture.

A team-oriented environment that promotes friendless and collaboration with rooftop meetings, yoga classes and free meals at their SanFran HQ.

Twitter HQ

But it’s more than these perks, which are not unusual for startups.

Employees rave about how they love working with other smart people. The enjoy being part of a company that is changing the world, and there is a sense that no one leaves until the work gets done.

Happy, friendly people create a great working environment. Stimulating team members who share a common goal make it a pleasure to come to work.

Encouraging that environment with well-being practices, increases the sense of fulfilment and satisfaction for employees. Twitter has really benefited from this.

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