This paper reviews the ways in which managers could motivate employees and the interpersonal characteristics that are important for managers to have to connect effectively with employees. The review finds that the efforts and commitments of managers to motivate employees ought to focus on making their work to feel meaningful to them. Competent and balanced performances of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation schemes are important for managers to motivate employees. To enable managers to motivate their employees effectively and sustainably, effective connections with them on an individual level are essential. Effective communications focused on interacting more openly and personally with employees and obtaining honest feedback from them represents one of the best ways to create and sustain effective connections with employees on an individual level.
Drive and motivation are important elements and determinants of the performances and effectiveness of employees in an organizational environment. Motivation refers to the reasons that people have for behaving or acting in a particular way in relation to the desire to achieve particular objectives. Motives are causes or prompts for the particular actions or behaviors of individuals, or for tendencies or inclinations to behave in a particular way. The degree to which individual employees or teams feel that their work is meaningful has a significant and direct effect on the levels of their motivation (“Managing People at Work”, 2017). This means that the efforts and commitments of managers to motivate and enhance the drive of employees ought to focus on making their work to feel meaningful to them. These efforts focus typically on understanding the things, circumstances, etc. that employees value as a way of allowing the opportunity to inspire them to find purpose in their work (“Managing People at Work”, 2017). By embracing this purpose and connecting with the deeper meaning of their tasks and work, employees feel motivated and acquire the drive necessary to strengthen their effectiveness in performance of tasks in an organizational environment.
To assist employees to find purpose and meaning in their work, and hence develop their motivation and drive to perform highly in their tasks, several measures and ways are available for managers. It is essential for managers to understand the things, circumstances, relationship models, etc. that employees care about at an individual level. The meaning or purpose of work is deeply personal for employees, while the perception of meaningful work for each employee is dependent on unique factors in individual life (“Managing People at Work”, 2017). This meaning is also contingent because the experiences of individuals at different points in time and life influence their attitudes towards work. This means that managers need to stay aware of events in the lives of individual employees if they are to motivate them and enhance their drive for performance in organizational tasks effectively. By staying aware of events in the lives of individual employees, managers can assist to guide them towards initiatives and projects in the organization that can foster their senses of purpose (“Managing People at Work”, 2017).
Managers also need to assist employees to see the benefits and beneficiaries of their efforts to promote the meaningfulness of their work. Research has yielded findings that individuals who identify with a “giving” aspect of their performances and roles are more likely to consider their work as important and meaningful (“Managing People at Work”, 2017). By assisting employees to perceive the contributions of their efforts and performances to value for the company and its stakeholders, including the society, managers are likely to enhance their motivation and drive for performance. Testimonials from stakeholders, client satisfaction reports, case studies, and comparisons between the quality of a company’s products or services with those of others represent some of the important ways of influencing employees’ perceptions of the value of their contributions to the company’s outputs.
Another important commitment in managers’ efforts to motivate employees involves the need to remind them of corporate goals and the mission of an organization to enable them to model their behaviors and actions accordingly. Constant status updates of the priorities and objectives of the corporation serve as important ways of influencing positive perceptions or impressions among employees concerning their value as human resources for achievement of these objectives. This means that in this way, managers promote employees’ perceptions of being valuable to the organization and its objectives (“Managing People at Work”, 2017). Managers who remind their employees of corporate goals and missions demonstrate to them that they (managers) consider the employees as the ultimate living and breathing assets with the power to determine the extent to which the organization succeeds in its objectives.
These commitments aimed at assisting employees to find purpose and meaning in their work, and hence motivate them, relate to the aspect of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation concerns the behaviors or actions of individuals that result from the promise of internal rewards (motives within the individual, such as interest, psychological rewards, and internal satisfaction). Alongside these ways of motivating employees are ways relating to extrinsic motivation, which concerns the actions or behaviors of individuals that result from the promise of external rewards (motives outside of the individual, such as financial rewards, the promise of promotion, etc.). Financial rewards remain an important source of motivation and drive for the performances of employees in an organizational environment. Employees who feel that the financial rewards (salary, wages, bonuses, etc.) from their roles in an organization are adequate are likely to put more effort in their performances compared with those who do not.
To enable managers to motivate their employees effectively and sustainably, effective connections with them on an individual level are essential. As noted earlier, managers need to understand the things, circumstances, relationship models, etc. that employees care about and consider as essential at an individual level if they are to promote their senses of work as meaningful. One of the best ways to create and sustain effective connections with employees on an individual level is through effective communications (Jamail, 2015). Mathis (n.d) notes that effective leaders focus on “building bridges” by using their words and actions skillfully to connect the present and past experiences of employees to a compelling vision of the future. McDonald (2017) notes that effective communication is vital as a tool for those who oversee teams, departments, or firms to express themselves, build consensus, resolve conflicts fairly, know the members of teams, understand others’ feelings and experiences, and inspire others.
Effective communication, by its nature, is interactive, implying the need for people to pay attention to others to hear and understand their needs. Effective communicators focus on making others comfortable around them and promote better interpersonal relations, such that others can offer honest feedback on their experiences, desires, and objectives. Among managers, part of this skill involves the alteration of personal attitude from the “boss persona” to interact freely with employees and enable them to relate better and more freely (McDonald, 2017). It involves establishing and maintaining “an open-door” policy towards employees in communications to promote their freedom and confidence in interactions with the managers (Cohen, 2009). The ability to communicate effectively is essential as a prerequisite for a happy, productive, and engaged team. By listening carefully to employees, making them comfortable in their communications, and promoting better relations with them (through holding team-building exercises, engaging in social events, etc.), managers can interact more personally with employees and obtain honest feedback from them. In this way, the managers can connect with employees effectively to understand the things, circumstances, relationship models, etc. that they care about and consider as essential at an individual level.
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Mathis, R. (n.d.). Building Bridges through Effective Communication.
McDonald, P. (2017, August). 6 Ways for Managers to improve Communication. The Staffing and HR Advisor: 24