Nature or Nurture: Can You Build A Motivated Employee? - Captivate Talent
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Nature or Nurture: Can You Build A Motivated Employee?

Stop believing those headlines “10 ways to motivate your employee” or “the top tips great leaders use to motivate their employees.” You cannot nurture motivation from the outside or simply just rely on the carrot or stick.

Leaders don’t motivate. They inspire. They engage. And they control an organization’s culture in a way that will intrinsically motivate employees.

So then how can a leader leverage motivation for their organization?

The Purpose Of Motivation

Why do you care about motivation? Why are leaders always looking for ways to inspire their employees? Why should you want employees to care about their jobs?

Motivated employees focus on the long-term. They see a vision for the future, both for themselves and for the company. They create personal goals aligned with the company’s objectives. They want to push your company forward, not only because they want to better their own position but also because they share the same values and mission as your organization.

Furthermore, motivated employees stay longer. It’s much easier to retain a motivated worker than an unmotivated one. Motivation keeps turnover low and productivity high.

But wait… I told you earlier that leaders don’t motivate. But I also just said that motivation is what takes your company to the next level.

So how can you motivate your employees in a way that will grow your organization?

Can You Motivate Your Employees?

It’s a trick question. You can’t just motivate your employees.

Merriam-Webster defines motivation as “a motivating force, stimulus, or influence.” This definition assumes that an employer or leader can motivate an employee to do something.

But how would you motivate your employee to work harder? Money? Benefits? Deadlines? Threats?

These are external motivators that may push people to work harder and faster… but they don’t get people to want to work. External factors—or extrinsic motivators— stimulate work in the short-term, but the results and motivations don’t last. Eventually these external stimuli run out of steam. At some point, the money won’t be enough. Threatening to fire won’t push a worker to work—in fact, it’ll push them to quit.

The only way to truly leverage motivation for your business is to unlock your employee’s internal motivation, aka intrinsic motivation.

Motivation starts with the employee you hire. There is no way to force motivation. You have to unravel it.

Motivation With Engagement

You can’t force internal motivation. You can’t make someone want to do a job or task. More often than not, we can’t even motivate ourselves enough to want to do a job.

The answer lies not in motivation but in engagement and hiring.

Unlike motivation, engagement can be nurtured. From there, engagement can help create intrinsically motivated employees.

If an employee is engaged with your organization, they will want to come to work, put in the hours, and be productive for you. They may not necessarily have a long-term vision, but they are engaged and happy so they want to succeed. From this engagement can stem intrinsic motivation moving forward.

So how can you engage and “motivate” your employees?

1. Create a strong culture. If employees are engaged with your mission, values, and philosophy, they will be more motivated to work for your business’ strategy and goals.

2. Utilize management and peer recognition. Recognition is the number one way to boost engagement at work. Although recognition is an external motivator, it helps spur internal stimuli by psychologically encouraging employees to want to be better and work harder.

3. Provide feedback. People want to know how they are doing. 70% of this feedback should be positive, in order to keep employees continuously engaged and feeling good (and motivated). 30% should be constructive feedback that helps them continue to grow within the company.

4. Ask what they want. Explicitly talk to your employees to find out what will best engage them on an individual level. Understand their intrinsic motivations. You can then leverage that knowledge moving forward.

5. Most importantly, have strong hiring techniques. Choose those employees who are motivated by nature to avoid having to nurture motivation. If you hire for “skill” over “will” you will fail time and time again.

Hiring For Motivation

Ultimately, there’s a simpler way to fill your organization with motivated employees. Stop trying to build motivation after hiring. Hire motivated people at the get-go.

Even if a candidate has the skillsets and talents, they need to also have the drive.

Hiring for skills results in turnover. Hiring for passion and motivation results in performance.

A candidate should have goals related to the role and company for which they are hiring. They should be engaged with and excited about the position. They should be motivated by the job’s potential and growth rather than its benefits.

The Bottom Line

You can’t force motivation. You have to unlock it with engagement tactics and intrinsic motivators.

Ultimately, though, you can avoid the nature versus nurture fiasco altogether. Hire people with a natural motivation for the job in order to avoid costly, timely, and futile attempts at nurturing their motivation.

That’s where Captivate Talent comes in. We work with our candidates one-on-one to find out what revs their engines, so we can direct them towards appropriate jobs. We can also work with you hiring team to build out a process that will focus on hiring for motivation.

Contact us to find candidates who already have the passion and motivation for your company.

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