Last week a friend of mine shared a powerful link on YouTube by Daniel Pink and his work from his book Drive on motivating employees. The message although not entirely new is shared well with subtle insights that are valuable to leaders. For a long while now we have known that money is not the prime motivator for people in complex jobs. As Pink rightly points out, the real motivators are autonomy, challenge, mastery and the ability to make a contribution.
That is all well and good and makes a lot of sense and is even inspirational. But the challenge with any presentation like this is how to make it reality. The workplace is not a neat and tidy place nor is it always inhabited by people with pure motives or high maturity. All those cool diagrams on the whiteboard and bullet points may sound so lovely and truly resonate with us but life is not a safe white board or auditorium. This however does not negate any of what is being said. The key then is to take what is being presented and make it work for you as a leader.
Step one is to always be clear on the goals. Without this foundational step, things become unraveled and turn to chaos. As a leader, be sure to be clear on the standard in excruciatingly vivid detail. Too many leaders are more interested in keeping control and managing the people towards results when in fact it is much better to manage the results and lead the people. But this is scary to the lesser manager because in the end they know the buck stops with them.
The rule then to unleash the autonomy, challenge, mastery and the ability to make a contribution for your employees is to be crystal clear what the results are and how those results are non-negotiable. And you as a leader in turn must let go, go with the flow or even laugh at all the rest.
This is related to my maxim that “All leaders must be in control without being controlling.”
You do not want to waste time and demotivate your employees on the ticky tack stuff. Let them be who they are and let them approach things in their own way. But only and always be uncompromising on the results.