If you employ people, you manage and lead people. I believe it’s a given that managers desire to lead well and maintain a motivated, engaged sales team.
Motivated and Engaged
These are elusive and abstract descriptions used every day for what we should look for in our organizations. When held up against the fire of getting our jobs done and achieving results, the intangibles tend to fade on our radar.
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz
The quote from Lou Holtz does a good job applying motivation and engagement to a given role. But in addition to work performance, there is the resultant happiness that accompanies motivation and engagement. Motivated and engaged people tend to be more positive and pleasant to be with; or is it the other way around? Who cares?
We want and need motivated and engaged people in our business; the more the better.
Traditional Motivation Methods
The two most common tools we tend to look for in affecting human performance are Compensation/Incentives and Performance Management Systems. Both comp plans and performance management are critical elements of effective management, but in themselves fall woefully short of hitting the root of what motivates most people.
Gallup research says, “Just one out of five employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.” Gallup Blog Jan 3, 2018
Even the best design of performance management systems can only touch around the edges of what motivates any given employee. Important, yes; sufficient, no.
There is eye-opening research surrounding behavioral effect of “carrot-based” compensation plans. The London School of Economics analyzed 51 large company compensation plans and produced the discovery that “financial incentives … can result in a negative impact on overall performance.” LSE: When Performance-Related Pay Backfires” Financial, June 25, 2009
Compensation and financial incentive plans can frustrate employees when too much weight is placed upon them to drive motivation. The underlying premise that you can always do more or better if I just pay you more can send a message which undermines personal trust. This approach implies that employees are holding back unless they get more money. Who feels good in this view?
So The Best Way To Motivate Your Team Is?
Behavioral scientists agree that “intrinsic motivation…. Is the strongest and most persuasive driver.” Intrinsic motivation is often referred to as self-motivation or ambition. David Hoffeld, The Science of Motivating Sales People, The Carrot & the Stick Must Go.
In other words, the key to motivation is understanding what makes employees want to do a good job.
The same Gallup research saying only 1 in 5 are highly motivated by their performance management also reveals some positive and actionable information.
Gallup found motivation comes from how deeply we feel connected to what we’ve created [what we are doing] and the degree to which people appreciate us. Further, “Employees who feel adequately recognized are half as likely as those who don’t to say they’ll quit in the next year.”
Building motivation and engagement generates organizational momentum that tends to create a buzz in the culture. Everyone feels it and most respond to it.
Great Tools for Motivation:
- Recognition – Public celebration and appreciation of a job well done create an awards system that is available to everyone. Encourage it’s use and let your team know they are appreciated.
- Awards – Create short cycle contests with a menu of awards for accomplishment. Flexibility in the awards reflects the personal interests of the individuals. Be consistent and realistic in setting up goals for your team.
- Milestones – Milestones can be public or more private which may be more personal. Examples are employment anniversary awards or gifts and project completion events
Human Resource and Sales Directors often look to pay plans and performance management cycles as their key tools for building motivation for performance in their teams. Consider the less expensive and far less ominous tools in your toolbox of recognition and awards.
Focus your attention on how you can tangibly communicate that you appreciate your employees’ efforts and nurture their intrinsic motivation to want to perform well.