Mobilising the Messy Analogue Moving Parts - Week 5: Motivation and Engagement

Posted on March 03, 2020 at 09:35 AM



Motivation and engagement.

A quick recap. Our organisational machine and its moving parts is running pretty smoothly. We've talked about emotional intelligence, giving good feedbackcoaching skills and bringing people together in teams. The next cog in the machine is motivation and engagement.

For Human Motivation 101, you could do worse than directing managers to Daniel Pink’s entertaining and highly readable book, Drive or encourage them to watch an animated whizz through if that’s their preference.  In a previous section we mentioned goal-setting as a key underpinning practice, and it’s one that’s useful in terms of motivating people too.  uFlexRewards found that one of the inhibitors of performance was the practice of,

setting specific delivery dates in the maximum state of ignorance”

– in other words, at the very start of a project or task.  We know that goals and targets can keep us focused and motivated, but it’s easy to get it wrong.  Setting unclear, impossible or too-easy objectives can demotivate us.  Goals that are too far in the future also tend to be of little help.  Ken Charman advocates the use of ‘spread dates and budgets’, which can be narrowed and made more specific as the project takes shape.  This refining of goals, monitoring of progress, exploration of barriers, clarification of requirements, consideration of what ‘success’ looks like and keeping abreast of changes can form part of check ins and can help to keep people energised and on-track.

We see motivation and engagement as two closely-related – but different – concepts.  Motivation is the drive - the set of forces - that lead us to initiate work-related behaviours, to work harder, to strive for better quality or improved service.  Engagement is a much broader church; motivation is part of the picture, but there are many factors that influence how engaged or not someone is, some of which come from the individual (such as motivation), but others are determined by the environment, by relationships, by culture, by the nature of the job, by the organisation, etc.  David MacLeod from Engage For Success – a leading authority in this area – says that engagement is “about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential”.

In a recent webinar hosted by Glint, Josh Bersin (Integrating Performance Management with Engagement – Two HR Domains Ready to Converge, September 2019) offers a number of compelling arguments for bringing our thinking and practices in performance management together with those around employee engagement.  Not just because of time – to avoid employees having to fill out multiple surveys or use multiple systems at different touch points in the year - but because productivity and engagement are so closely linked and related. 

He also references another good read for managers, The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, which talks about these two aspects of work as being different sides of the same coin.  If we can increase our engagement in the work that we do, our productivity – and performance – increases.  Building managers’ knowledge of what drives engagement – and providing them with the tools to capture and explore the data collected about it - will help them work with their teams to improve performance, explore gaps and lapses and have really good conversations about what drives people to do their best.

In the final week of our series we'll be shifting gears to creating a supportive culture and one of empowerment and delegation.

We hope you'll tune in but if this is not quite your thing then why not forward it to a colleague who may like a read.

If you have any questions in the meantime do please get in touch.

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