Employee Engagement and Motivation – Two Magic Words That Will Multiply Team Performance

Employee Engagement and Motivation – Two Magic Words That Will Multiply Team Performance

By Mark Buchan
I was with my mentor today and we were talking about his time in management and he was relaying a story to me that left me stuck for words. In fact the message was so basic that I may have disregarded it completely.
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He was telling me that he had just taken on a new role in a large organisation and he received the wonderful perk of having his own secretary. At the end of his first day or so he uttered the two magic words – not the kind uttered by Harry Potter but the kind expressed my masters in the area of people motivation – wait for it – yes he said “thank you”.

As I said I almost disregarded this information but his secretary was gobsmacked and may have visibly appeared shocked so he said “What’s wrong?” thinking he may have inadvertently insulted her.

But she said “I have worked here for 25 years and you are the first person who has thanked me”. 25 years and not one thank you – where did the woman ever get the motivation to come into work?

Recognition is a huge motivator for people, more than money according to Herzberg. As leaders we are best served to remember that a well delivered “thank you” is not so much an indication of good manners but is also a useful tool of motivation.

In fact there is a lot of talk these days about how to get greater employee engagement and this is one way to achieve it.

How much more engaged do you think the secretary was once she felt acknowledged and appreciated for her efforts? You can be guaranteed that her level of engagement was far greater after the interaction with her boss.

Of course I’m not recommending that we overuse or abuse the term because then its power may become diluted, but maybe you can creatively think of new ways to thank your team for the efforts that they put in.

Sometimes we may make things more complex than they need to be. For instance performance management systems may over-complicate the process of employee motivation as they seek to reward and thus reinforce appropriate behaviours in organisations.

However a well delivered thank you in the form of a round of beers at the pub once in a while can have more power than the multi-million pounds invested in external consultants seeking to improve organisational performance. So the message here is one of KIS – keep it simple, people will respect you more

So thank you for reading this and I hope that it has helped to remind you of the power that you can evoke in another individual by authentically delivering those two precious magic words.

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