Consider this- We are standing on the remaining few weeks of the year and will very soon step into the last quarter of our business; time to push the limits and ensure that organisational goals and yearly targets are duly met. Time for every member of your organisation to be all geared up and hit the finishing line with flying colors. But nothing happens on its own; everything and every individual needs a push. The question is – how do you ensure that your teams are egged on enough to achieve their individual goals and the overall business objectives. What can motivate them to excel their own benchmarks and set a new record of team success?
Life and work are like running a marathon. You keep your energy and stamina going steady and push all your emotional and physical boundaries to win the race in the last mile. And that’s where you need your mentors and your supporters to cheer you. Running an organisation is no different. Just that, here your employees are your athletes and you are the mentor, standing by them and ensuring they successfully finish the race.
Motivation- the secret ingredient
It’s no news that every employee needs to be motivated so they can give their best, as an individual or as a team. Now, motivation, itself is a tricky concept. What motivates my people? We often ask ourselves. What else can I do to ensure they feel more encouraged at this time of the year? With organisational changes and employee evolution, the factors of motivation have also come a long way. Although, it still stands at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the stimulating elements are not what it used to be even a decade ago.
Ways to motivate
Material benefits like fringe benefits, perks, incentives, bonuses, increment etc. are the most tried and tested ways to encourage employees. But these are subject to the laws of diminishing returns- where the immediate impact is visible but loses its importance over the long-run and has no long lasting benefits.
Fear can also be a motivational tool but let’s face it, we are not living in a dictatorship. Even if fear works as a driving force, it might just be temporary and does not yield positive results.
That leaves us with the easiest but probably a little complicated tool of intangible needs- just like Maslow theorised. Encouragement, appreciation, recognition, growth and inclusivity, are more likely to inspire the employees to challenge their own benchmarks and strive for excellence. It’s needed more in the last leg of the year. Realising the importance of EQ, employees seek more abstract form of motivation from their leaders and mentors.
Now you cannot ‘plan’ a motivation strategy. It has to be weaved within your organisational practices as a modus operandi. That is when, even the last quarter pressure looks easier on the human resource. The biggest challenge here is to identify each employee’s unique desire and also of individual team. The questions you might want to ask yourself and your organisational members-
Can we achieve what we had set out for? What changes shall we make in our approach?
• Is he/she the right person for this target?
• Are they better on their own or in a team setting?
• What drives him/her to successfully achieve the given target?
• Is the level of expectation justified?
• Do the employees have the right training for this task?
• What if there are failures enroute?
• Do we have enough time to indulge in trial and error?
What entails employee motivation and how
It all sounds great when we talk about encouraging people and boosting their morale to support them through the critical last phase of the year. And we might know how to do it. But the contention always remains as to whether such endeavours are successful, relevant and sustainable, especially when we are hitting the edge for the yearly goals.
7 commandments of motivation for the last mile
Commandment might be an overstatement, but to be able to successfully reach the finishing line of the fiscal year, with all objectives met, let’s consider these as cues to yield optimum employee performance.
1. Thou shall be realistic-
It’s obvious that leaders set goals for their teams and individual organizational members to be met by the end of the year. But we also know that what is only realistic can be realised. Setting a set of challenging yet achievable goals are more likely to drive people than looking at out-of-reach targets and expecting them to fulfill it, more so when it’s a ‘Man vs. Time’ scenario.
2.Thou shall reward them and duly so
As we said that material benefits are not long-lasting. And at times like these, when a lot needs to be done in so little time, rewarding the employees with a reward mechanism that will yield them long term benefits, can turn out to be a fruitful way of encouraging them. For e.g. highlighting their contribution or achievement in the monthly newsletter.
3.Thou shall recognize and appreciate their efforts
The essence is in the journey they say and efforts mean more than the actual outcomes. Even though it might sound a little impractical, appreciating the late nights, long hours and the overall efforts, will never go unnoticed and will inspire them enough to do an extra ounce of hard work every time.
4.Thou shall evaluate them intermittently
Reassessing the performance of employees, individually or as teams, at regular intervals can ensure that every one is in sync with the end objectives. In case, a predetermined work approach is not working, there can always be Plan B to deal with a particular task, or even a Plan C, which can only be gauged with interim evaluation.
5.Thou shall reason thine expectations
It all starts with ‘Why’- why one does what one does. Give them a reason and let the reason not be money. This is the time to reinstate the company vision. After all, what significance do goals have if there is no purpose and a mission driving them?
6.Thou shall promote a stress-free environment
Anyone would kill to be able to take a deep breath, and still manage to achieve their goals. But, only if life was so merciful. But then again, it does not have be all nerve-wrecking. A little dose of fun and light moments, within the hectic schedules and time bound targets, can make this race a little easy. And who’s better than the organizational leaders to introduce an environment of enjoyment amidst the chaos?
7.Thou shall adopt and adapt
To be able to meet the set objectives, everybody adopts their own way of functioning. After all, results matter and that’s more important than anything else, even if it means that some employees would need flexible working hours. Or, some teams might want to work jointly on a certain goal, or some might want to work alone. Just like teaming employees with similar career goals yields better output, allowing a single perspective to certain tasks and decisions can be helpful when there is a dearth of time.
Motivating employees cannot be just an end-of-the-year activity, but rather, an ongoing practice- something that organisations must integrate in their functions. Because, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily”- Zig Zigler.
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Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.