As we enter another month of a large scale remote-workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that motivation, performance, and well-being are declining for many. Months into the pandemic, leaders are looking for innovative ways to reenergize their teams, identify new underlying struggles, and empathetically address an up rise in employee relations.
Leaders carry the responsibility of providing structure, guidance, and regulation for their teams; yet many workplace studies suggest the most important gauge for a healthy work environment isn’t a strong external framework, but relies on whether employees can foster and maintain a strong internal motivation.
So, what are some ways you as a leader can meet the psychological needs of your workforce to help keep your team stay engaged, confident and motivated?
Leaders should create ways to make employees’ feel cared for and foster a sense of belonging. Make time to listen to your employees. Hear what your employee’s perspectives are and make them know that they are heard and valued. Try these approaches to create a better connection with your team:
- Acknowledge team member’s work and achievements on an individual basis. Reduce team size and don’t let people get lost in crowd
- Get multiple perspectives when issues arise. This will help you to identify underlying and major issues and obstacles, while encouraging open communication and strengthening connections
- Do not let good work go unrecognized; emphasis that everyone’s input and ideas are unique and vital to the success of the organization
- Show your employees you care about their over well-being, not just their productivity
- Empathize and acknowledge your employee’s emotions as well as their actions. (I know times are been hard for you right now, but we’ll work through this together!)
Competent employees are employees that feel effective and experience growth. According to research, holding employees accountable for obtainable goals can improve overall performance. Studies also suggests that trust creates trust. A few simple practices that can help ignite your team’s internal motivation include:
- Include employees on the decision-making process. Asking for input to optimize processes, for example, can make an employee feel a sense of empowerment, progress, and ownership
- Empower your employees to lead through demonstration. Ask employees to explain or demonstrate to their colleagues what they are working on
- Set individual goals and create strategies to achieve these goals. Have regular check-ins to discuss the progress and challenges of reaching these goals
Effective leaders encourage internal motivation by empowering employees to take responsibility for their own actions. They give employees the power to make their own choices that are aligned with their own values, goals, and interests, as well as their team’s. Leaders should promote autonomy and be empathetic and understanding while also recognizing that each employee holds responsibilities for achieving team goals. To help create a sense of autonomy within the workforce we recommend leaders:
- Be open and honest about the rationale behind demands. Employees will be more willing to tackle a task when they understand the importance behind the task given
- Minimize coercive controls, such as unrealistic deadlines and micromanagement and avoid controlling language (“Get this to me by the end of the day!”). Instead look for ways to promote positive feedback, for example, “I know this is a tight deadline, but we can get this done with the skills you have on this topic.”
- Encourage employees to take initiative and participate. Perhaps ask, “What part of this project do you think you could tackle?”
An employee’s work environment plays a big role in how these channels can be positively or negatively impacted, so it comes as no surprise that internal motivation is at risk during these pandemic times. Regardless of the circumstances, employees will be most energized and committed when they are internally motivated by values, sense of enjoyment, and growth. Internal motivation inspires employees to be their best selves. By meeting these three psychological needs, leaders can keep employees engaged and feel valued at work (relatedness), find motivation in growth potential (competence), and feel empowered and confident in their skills (autonomy).Back to Insights