For many businesses, the idea of increasing employee engagement seems like an elusive impossibility.
The truth that most don’t talk about is that if the employees aren’t intrinsically motivated, driving engagement can be like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
By definition, intrinsic motivation comes from within. However, organizations that master the art of inspiring such motivation create a high-performance environment where employees are engaged in driving the company toward success.
So how do you cultivate such an environment?
Hire for fit
The first step is to make sure you hire the right people for the team. This step can’t be underestimated. Having the right people on the team can make the difference between a company culture consisting of trust and collaboration, or a culture of toxic politicking.
Competition is a good thing, right? Sure, when it’s friendly competition. However, competition is counter-productive when team members are working against each other instead of working toward shared goals.
This kind of toxic competition drives down productivity because projects and performance are often rewarded based on who strokes the boss’ ego the most. And those who can’t or aren’t willing to win the boss’ favor by brown-nosing or cutting down their colleagues end up feeling undervalued and get stuck in a rut of mediocrity.
TGIM vs TGIF
Mediocrity isn’t exclusive to environments rife with negative competition. Quite often, it’s simply a result of a TGIF (Thanks God It’s Friday) mentality. In a TGIF culture, employees view work as a daily grind to be endured for a paycheck.
TGIF employees are usually happy to do the bare minimum and can’t wait to race out of the door on Friday. Too many TGIF-ers on staff results in a culture of mediocrity.
Contrast this with TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) mindset, where employees are excited to go to work on Mondays. The TGIM-er loves his job, loves his work and is motivated to do his very best. This sort of energy is infectious and has a multiplying effect when the majority of employees feel this way.
The TGIM culture is one of innovation and creativity. It’s a culture that drives the company forward with focus on the company purpose and (hopefully) shared accomplishment.
Employees as assets, not expenses
According to Infusionsoft VP of Corporate Development, Hal Halladay, cultivating a TGIM environment goes beyond just hiring the right talent, to treating employees like assets worthy of investment.
How do you demonstrate to your employees that they are valued assets? Invest in their personal and professional growth. Create clear paths for leadership development and increased responsibility within the company. Enable employees to build skills that support their future goals.
This might seem counter intuitive, but the philosophy is that employees add value to organizations and should be treated as such. Who wants to work in an environment where growth is stagnant?
Today’s employee wants to know that her work is worth something and that there is something greater to strive for. When there are opportunities for growth, employees feel valued and are all too happy to work hard every day, even when things are tough.
Trust, transparency and accountability
Making employees feel like valued assets is only part of the equation. A culture of high performance — sans the negative competition — happens where there is trust and accountability. This frequently happens when doing the right thing and letting go of ego are valued.
This goes back to hiring for fit. When people know they work for an organization with shared values, those values act as a code of conduct. There is often temptation to reward performance above all else, but this can breed distrust. Instead, the code of conduct should create de facto accountability for how to behave, which ultimately creates trust; trust opens communication and nurtures collaboration.
While you don’t want to value performance above conduct, performance still needs to be measured. This creates accountability especially when the performance metrics are reported regularly and publicly.
In the end, the TGIM culture is one that values high performance in an environment where employees are investment-worthy assets working toward a shared purpose. There is excitement around these goals and the desire to do great work.
That excitement turns into ambitious performance, which creates momentum that companies with a TGIF culture can only dream of.