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To Engage, Or Motivate… THAT Is The Question.

In my consulting practice, I am frequently asked about the difference between Motivation and Engagement and people want to know which they should be focusing on. My answer is, BOTH! If we want our employees to be engaged, we need to understand their motivators. These two things go hand in hand.

The most important thing that I tell leaders is that the key to getting their employees engaged and understanding their motivators comes down to the leader’s genuine interest in their working partners. Do you know what kick starts your employees? Do you know WHY they work? Do you know what their endgame looks like? Do you know what they value most? If you don’t know these things, you will never be able to create engagement.

So, let’s start there: Your Engagement.

Each one of us has four Basic Psychological Needs, which are a reflection of what we value and how we find balance. Now, they key is to figure out which of those Psychological Needs drives the people you are dealing with. What makes this challenging is that we tend to see people as we see ourselves—we bond through similarities. However, as leaders we need to make sure that we are not seeing the employees AS WE ARE, but in fact striving to see them AS THEY ARE. Trust me, this is totally normal, however misleading, in the long run. If we're going to truly understand our employees, we have to dig a little deeper into their Psychological Needs.

Psychological Needs:

· The need to belong

· The need for power

· The need for freedom

· The need for fun

Each one of these needs are valued by all of us, however at different times in our lives, or in different roles that we play, we will have one predominant, driving need. Understanding your own driving need, at work, and then being able to respect, understand and USE the knowledge of their driving need will help you motivate them, individually, and get them engaged.

Now, let’s shift and put the focus on creating Motivation. Following are the top motivating techniques, desired by employees, from an article published by the AMA. I think you may be surprised to see that it’s not as much about donuts and gift cards, as you may have previously thought.

1. Personal thanks

2. Written thanks

3. Promotion for performance

4. Public praise

5. Morale-building meetings

Are you on track? Are you meeting the employee’s motivational needs?  Employees want to see, hear and experience Thanks. They want personal, relevant, and regular Thanks. When we get engaged in the discovery process of uncovering our employee’s psychological needs and values, and then make motivating and acknowledging success a cornerstone in our leadership process, everyone wins.

That is exactly what an engaged and motivated workforce looks like:

Everyone Wins.


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