Motivating Your People Great Supervisor

Motivating Your People: The Essence of Being a Great Supervisor

Motivating your people is a great challenge that faces any supervisor, manager, or leader. Trying to get the best out of your people, to reach for their personal goals, to buy-in of the company’s vision, to “go for it” instead of just getting by. Just like a military officer, if you can motivate your troops you’ll see the results when you go into combat, a great supervisor can make their people grow to new heights with team accomplishments.

To get to that level, you’ll have to learn more about what essence is required, which starts with learning about the roots of employee motivation. In part 1 of this series of 37 questions, see if you can answer these 12 questions yourself (see below each one for our answers), then you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great supervisor who’s known for motivating your people.

  1. What is a significant historical piece of research that has contributed to the present-day knowledge of employee motivation?
  • Research conducted by Dr Elton Mayo in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s at Western Electric’s plant in Hawthorne IL.
  • Results of these experiments have come to be called the Hawthorne Effect.
  1. What is the significance of the Hawthorne Effect?
  • The Hawthorne Effect showed that even when physical conditions were against them, a group of factory workers were able to increase their production levels to all-time highs.
  • These employees worked with a supervisor who was known to be more of a friendly observer than a strict disciplinarian.
  • Changes in their working conditions were made frequently, but were always explained in advance.
  • In other words, Mayo discovered something that is obvious today: workplaces are social environments.
  • When the workers were singled out from the rest of the factory workers, it raised their self-esteem.
  • When they were allowed to have a friendly relationship with their supervisor, they felt happier at work.
  • When work changes were discussed in advance with them, they felt like part of the team.
  • Their co-operation and loyalty had been secured, and this was why their productivity rose even when working conditions deteriorated.
  1. Based on research conducted over the last 75 years, what are the four things we definitely know about employee motivation?
  • Employee behavior is a result of forces in the individual and in the environment.
  • Employees make conscious decisions about their behavior.
  • Employees have different needs, desires, and goals.
  • Employees do what they see is rewarded.
  1. What is the significance of the knowledge that employee behaviour is the result of forces in the individual and in the environment?
  • Even though supervisors may not have the ability to control individuals, they have considerable influence on the work environment.  In fact, it is the supervisor that will create the overall work climate.
  • Thus, supervisors have the ability to influence employee behaviour.
  1. Why is it important to recognize that employees make conscious decisions about their behaviour?
  • Even though supervisors can create the work environment, only individuals can choose their behaviour within that environment.
  • Thus, ultimately, it is the employee’s choice as to what level of performance they seek to achieve.
  1. Why is it important that employees are different in their needs, desires and goals?
  • When it comes to motivating employees there is no such thing as “one size fits all”.
  • It is important for a supervisor to take the time to get to know their employees so that s/he can have a better understanding of what motivates each employee.
  1. What is the significance of the knowledge that employees do what they see is rewarded?
  • The implication is that if we know what motivates an employee, then we can use that as a reward to persuade the employee to higher and better performance.
  1. Is money a motivator?
  • No, money is not a motivator, but lack of money is a de-motivator.
  • If that sounds perplexing, consider Frederick Herzberg’s research (later questions)
  • Herzberg’s research showed that money was an extrinsic factor and therefore a perceived lack contributed towards dissatisfaction, but once a fair amount was paid, it did not contribute towards satisfaction.
  1. Summarize the significance of Frederick Herzberg’s research completed in 1968?
  • Most people think that the opposite of job satisfaction is job dissatisfaction.
  • Frederick Herzberg, in his now classic work published in 1968, discovered that there were in fact two separate continuums.
  • He discovered that the factors that produced job satisfaction were separate and distinct from those that lead to job dissatisfaction.
  • It is important to understand that since these factors are separate and distinct, job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposites of each other.
  • The opposite of job satisfaction is not job dissatisfaction, but rather, no job satisfaction; and similarly, the opposite of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction, but no job dissatisfaction.
  1. Why is it important to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic factors?
  • Intrinsic factors (or motivators) are the primary causes of satisfaction on the job
  • Extrinsic factors (or de-motivators) are the primary causes of dissatisfaction on the job.
  1. What has research shown to be the top six intrinsic factors?
  • A sense of achievement
  • Recognition for achievement
  • The work itself
  • A sense of responsibility
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Opportunities for advancement
  1. What has research shown to be the top seven extrinsic factors?
  • Perceived bureaucracy and administration
  • Poor supervision
  • Poor relationship with peers
  • Working conditions
  • Salary
  • Status
  • Job security

Stay tuned for our follow up articles where we’ll go into more questions and answers that a great supervisor needs to know, when you want to ensure you’re motivating your people.

Originally published on Merge Speaks