Engaging employees at various levels has been a great need of any organization. Organizations invest huge resources to carry out employee engagement surveys or employee opinion surveys to assess employee engagement and motivation levels. Organizations exert lot of efforts to work on enhancing employees’ enthusiasm by thriving to improve various organizational drivers. All these efforts led to some positive shift in employees’ perception regarding organizational drivers and enablers.
This is like a double edged sword. On one side it can create some positive impact towards employees’ engagement and motivation. On the other side it leads towards increasing employees expectations. Over the years these expectations keep increasing which at times might be difficult to meet. After all the efforts the organizations make, there still are employees who may not be enthused or driven.
There are some organizations who share these concerns for their employees at various levels. Recently while interacting with few heads of the organizations, they shared similar concern with me i.e. the organization is doing sufficient (as seen by organization) yet the employees are not motivated or engaged and retention is a challenge.
This brings us to think about the core of it i.e. inspiring and driving individuals/ employees.
Based on theoretical framework, there are various engagement models that have been developed over a period of time to address this aspect.
As I see, what the organizations are working on is influencing individuals through external motivators in form of various organizational drivers and initiatives like; talent management and career advancement, learning and development, open and transparent communication, quality of leadership, recognition for achievement, facilitative work environment and HR practices, freedom & autonomy, healthy workplace relationship, managing workload, role clarity, fairness of rewards, competitive pay and benefits, performance feedback, work life balance, work security, etc.
Though these extrinsic factors are important, it may not always be the one which can instill zeal and passion among individuals.
So what can stimulate motivation within individual?
Looking at some of my personal experiences and my observations about individuals that I have directly/ indirectly worked with indicates that it is the intrinsic motivation that drives the person.
Intrinsic motivation is the internal desire, urge or the internal guiding force that moves the person. It creates zeal and passion to exert that extra effort or go an extra mile to achieve ones goals and purposes.
Intrinsic motivation comes from the awareness of self – what one values, believes in, lives for or pays most attention to – be it in personal or professional life and living upto it. This acts as a guiding principle for various decisions, actions, priorities or choices one makes in life. Often living by these values, beliefs and purpose helps individual to remain committed and engaged at work or in personal life; besides guiding the person when dealing with dilemma or conflicting situations.
How to stir the intrinsic motivation?
So who should work towards driving internal motivation of the person? Well, it is in interest of both – the individual himself and the organization that one be intrinsically motivated. Hence both the individual and the organization (with help of mentors and leaders) may initiate the process of driving intrinsic motivation of the individual.
Inorder to be driven intrinsically, an individual himself or a mentor and a leader can facilitate an individual by helping one to reflect and act on following aspects;
- Being aware of self and identifying one’s values and purpose:
There is a quest that one has to find answer to ‘Who am I’. This may look like a spiritual aspect however, at the core every one of us seeks for this answer. Who am I may cover various aspects like ones’ personality, strengths and limitations, values (e.g. make a difference, responsibility, commitment, speed, accuracy, freedom, excellence, fairness), purpose, etc. In this, our values guide our actions and decisions. They are like our mental compass which provides us the direction, helps us to plan for and move towards our goals be it personal or professional life.
The values and purpose also aid us in dealing with dilemma at different points in time and go beyond to meet the need of those values. In our everyday life, this element gets diluted at times as we tend to focus on accomplishing regular tasks (which are important though) without remaining aware about our core.
An individual himself or a mentor and a leader can help the individual to explore and answer following;
- How do I describe myself? What kind of person am I? What are my strengths or limitations?
- What do I value in life? Which values I strive to live for most of the time? Which values I may not/ do not compromise with, irrespective of situations?
- What do I want to live for? What purpose drives me?
- Finding opportunities and ways to honour values and purpose:
Conscious awareness about oneself, especially about ones’ purpose and drive, makes the actions more meaningful and enjoyable. This evokes passion and zeal to achieve more meaningful outcome. It is thus useful and needed that one finds opportunities and approaches to honour ones’ values.
An individual who is self-driven actively seeks for situations and ways to use the values and live for the purpose. To drive individuals, mentors and leaders can help them by providing assignments and task that relate with ones values. Besides, they can as well help individuals to leverage on their strengths and values in their existing tasks and responsibilities.
Many times individuals look for such opportunities outside their current job. However, all this can be done in one’s existing tasks, assignments and job.
Reflecting on following questions may help move closer to values and purpose;
- Which actions of mine would help me move closer to my purpose and goal?
- What do I do to honour/ live by my values and purpose in my current job or conditions?
- What do I do to live by my purpose and values in my day to day work?
- How do I fulfill my current tasks, assignments or job by leveraging my strengths and values?
- Taking actions to live by values and purpose:
Just thinking or planning does not get desired outcome. One needs to exert sustained effort to live upto the purpose and the values. A well planned approach supported with action is what is required for achieving goals that are in line with ones’ purpose and values. The internal driving force to keep moving closer to the goal and the continuous and, steady focus is what tends to inspire the individual to keep going.
The individual should in this case keep taking actions in the planned direction and intermittently review/ monitor oneself against the plan. A mentor or a leader should be observant about individuals’ actions and help review actions if required. It would be helpful to reflect on following questions to see if one is moving in desired direction;
- How much effort am I exerting to meet the goal related to my values and purpose?
- Am I moving in the direction of what I had planned to honour my values and purpose?
- Are my actions in line with my values and purpose?
- Reviewing manifestations and outcome of actions:
To see the value of ones’ actions, it is essential that one reviews the outcome and manifestations of the same. This would help to see if the actions are yielding the fruits that one wanted to accomplish. When actions are in line with the desired outcome, it further triggers motivation to work towards those aspects.
An individual and a mentor or a leader may help the individual to review outcome based on actions taken using following questions;
- What has it lead to when I have lived by my values, goals and purpose?
- What would it mean to move away from my purpose and what would it do to me?
To share a personal experience, ‘Make a Difference’ is one of my top 10 values. This one value has aided me in selection of a career I am in, make specific career transitions and remain engaged in it, deal with dilemma at different points in time and go beyond to meet the need of this value. This has resulted in immense satisfaction and joy of the work I do.
Awareness, insight and actions based on these reflections and actions help an individual to be more intrinsically driven. It is thought that living by values and purpose is difficult and is an ideal situation which is difficult to achieve. Well, it may be difficult but not impossible. Besides, if it leads to more internal satisfaction and joy, it is worth working in this direction.
– Ms. Uravi Raichandani (Head, Assessment & Coaching)
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