Understanding Employee Motivation and Their Will to Perform
As we previously discussed in the Hi Lo Matrix, employee motivation is present to differing degrees in our teams and is dictated by varying things. While you may understand where your employee falls on the Hi / Lo Matrix, do you know why their level of commitment is low and thereby their will to perform? Understanding what drives their behaviors can help guide your coaching interactions to ensure you are focusing on the right things with each and every person on your team. This is where understanding the Motivational Chain of Events can assist you in determining what drives employee motivation and their will to perform.
The Motivational Chain of Events is based on the idea that there are several factors to analyze when attempting to determine the root cause of an employee’s lack of motivation or will. Each of these factors are linked together by the performance management process.
Let’s take a look at this chain and how the pieces link together.
Effort / Resources
Result / Product
Reward / Consequence
The links in the Motivational Chain of Events
The Effort / Resources link in the Motivational Chain of Events depicts the amount of energy both the employee and the company or organization put into a particular task. The company provides the resources to employees to enable them to perform. This can come in the form of training, software, hardware, supplies, or additional people to support their efforts. The employee must also make the decision on how much effort they are going to invest in the task. This level of effort is the first link in determining the picture of employee motivation. Together the employee and the company dictate the start of the performance journey in this way.
The Result / Product link in the Motivational Chain of Events is used to show the outcome of the effort and resources invested into a particular task. Depending on the investment in the earlier piece of the chain, a product, level of performance, or result will occur. In other words, given that the company has supported the employee with the resources needed and the employee has decided to dedicate the right level of effort, or will to perform, high performance or a quality product will result.
In the Reward / Consequence portion of the Motivational Chain of Events, we tie in the overall reward or consequence that the employee can expect from performing the task well. The reward can manifest itself in the form of recognition, monetary incentives, or eligibility for new challenges. On the other hand, there are also consequences for poor performance or low quality work. If the employee does not deliver, they should understand there will be consequences. This can come in the form of loss of incentive income, poor performance ratings, lower appraisal ratings, and negative recognition.
The last link in the Motivational Chain of Events, Employee Motivation, is a result of how the employee felt while experiencing the previous links in the performance process. These links produce a level of motivation in the employee, whether high or low, that they carry forward to their next tasks.
If you think about it, each time you, your employees, or your teams set out to accomplish a goal, they progress through this Motivational Chain of Events. Now that we understand the process, how do we apply it? Well, we must understand the breakpoints that can occur, to understand what could be impacting or limiting the employee motivation we see and their will to perform and to deliver the expected results.
How and Where do Breaks in the Motivational Chain of Events Occur?
The first break point can occur in between the Effort / Resources and Result / Product links. This break point in the Motivational Chain of Events is often due to a lack of confidence. Essentially the employee does not necessarily believe that they can deliver the results that are expected of them. This confidence level can be based on either their view of their own skill sets or their view of the level of resources provided by the company.
To ensure that the employee has the confidence to deliver, you must first ensure there are adequate resources provided. While some aspects of the resources may be out of your control, you can often make up for deficiencies provided by the company in added manager support. Next you must truly believe the employee can deliver and ensure they see this come across from you. If the employee senses that you have a low amount of confidence this will impact their confidence level and the overall results they deliver as their will to perform will be lower.
The second break point in employee motivation can occur due to a lack of trust. This break will typically occur between the Result / Product and Reward / Consequence chain links. In this break, the employee does not trust that the outcome of their efforts will be what was communicated. In other words, if they successfully complete the task and meet the performance expectations, they should see a reward of some type. If they do not believe this reward will occur, they will not have enough trust to motivate them to perform. Think about how de-motivating it is to deliver your best product, but to have no one notice the effort you put in. Doesn’t it almost encourage you to spend less time and effort on your next task?
To overcome this break point in the Motivational Chain of Events, you must reinforce the reward or consequences consistently. Each time your employees or teams deliver at or above expectations you must recognize it in some manner. Likewise, if they fail to deliver, you cannot let this go unnoticed or unchallenged.
The last break point can occur between the Reward / Consequence and the Employee Motivation chain links. If the employee has a lack of satisfaction when delivering results and receiving their reward, again their employee motivation will be lessened. Let’s take an example. Let’s say that the reward put in place for delivering high performance is to receive a new challenge potentially at a higher standard. If you have an employee who has no interest in new levels of work, they will be less than motivated to achieve a higher level of performance. This can also occur because the employee believes that they did not receive the support that was necessary from you or the company and therefore had to expend more energy than may have been necessary.
To ensure your employees and teams avoid experiencing a lack of satisfaction, you must determine what their hot buttons are. If you are trying to motivate an employee with a higher bonus for delivering above expectations, but the employee places a higher value on receiving recognition, you have misplaced your efforts and will not see a change in their will to perform. You could not only receive higher performance if the reward matches the employees desires, but could also save unnecessary expenses.
Now that you understand the breakpoints in the Motivational Chain of Events and how to address them, it’s time to practice what you’ve learned. To do so, you should analyze each member of your team and their level of employee motivation, using the Hi / Lo Matrix and then determine where their breakpoints might be. Once you have done so, you are ready to coach. You can then use the IGROW Model to apply what you’ve learned and to begin to see a performance change through heightened motivation.