Feedback is one of the most powerful motivators in a high-performing culture, says Mackenzie Kyle, author of The Performance Principle: A Practical Guide to Understanding Motivation in the Modern Workplace. “We expect people to come to work and engage in activities that are not clearly related to any particular big-picture outcome,” he says. “We give them very little feedback on their progress, and we expect them to find all this motivating simply because we provide them with money. Is it any wonder we have trouble getting people motivated about work?”
Money is not a motivator, he adds, it’s a satisfier. But companies tend to rely on it without considering other ways to engage their employees.
“People are like snowflakes,” he says. “They are all a little bit different and unique. But for medium-sized and larger organizations, it’s more convenient for us if people are treated in a similar fashion. It’s a lot of work to focus on what the individual finds rewarding or motivating, and then find ways to connect those differences to what we’re trying to accomplish as a team or unit, or ultimately, as an organization. It does take effort, but it’s a valuable way to improve performance, satisfaction and engagement.”
Part of the solution, Kyle says, is to delve into the performance management system and make sure that there’s a structure in place that provides clear communication on objectives at the individual level, at the team level and at the organizational level. Then make sure that there is a process in place to provide feedback to employees at each of those levels.
The leader’s role is to regularly reach out to individuals across the organization for input. “Ask them how they get feedback, how often they get feedback, how happy they are with that process, and whether they understand how what they do ties to the larger team goals,” he explains.
If there is no feedback system in place that ties objectives back to what the individual is doing, it will limit their performance and engagement.
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