Welcome to January 2023. This is the month of the year that we are most optimistic and confident by what the future holds. The warmth of the festive Holidays is fading and getting back to work is creeping into our daily reality.
However, it is a turbulent world. In 2023, companies need to:
- Recalibrate growth strategies and develop hybrid work environments
- Do more digital transformation initiatives with less skilled resources
- Manage ongoing pandemic concerns
It is during these turbulent times that we identify our yearly goals and build upon our career commitments and aspirations. Annual KPI’s are determined, projects are started, and deadlines are set.
- How do employees stay motivated and engaged with so much uncertainty?
- How do we get charged up to take on new challenges?
- How do we create relevant solutions and strengthen connections to customer needs to drive more revenue in the marketplace?
Leaders understand the importance of improving employee motivation and engagement, but many times, they don’t know where to start. Being able to create a positive workplace can dramatically increase employee morale, productivity, and performance.
Here are three (3) actionable tips that can help employees stay motivated, engaged, find comradery on project teams, and ultimately provide a desirable workplace where employees want to stay.
Tip #1: Employee Motivation is an Outcome of Having a Growth Mindset
Employee engagement and motivation are a mindset. Employees are at the heart of the engine that produces business outcomes; however, they need to build their profile as talented employees that have ideas, aspirations, and accomplishments both within and outside the organization. They must be understood and nurtured.
In her research, Psychologist Professor Carol Dweck coined the term ‘growth mindset’ as the way of thinking that emphasizes that intelligence is not fixed; instead, it can be developed.
Students (and adults) with a growth mindset focus on:
- Working harder and improving themselves
- Showing more enthusiasm for the process
- Having greater motivation and achieving greater success
People with a growth mindset look for positive outcomes both in their career and in life. They think thoughts like the following:
“I can learn anything I want to.”
“When I’m frustrated, I persevere.”
“I want to challenge myself.”
“When I fail, I learn.”
“If I succeed, I’m inspired.”
“My attitude and effort determine everything.”
Whereas people with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence and abilities are fixed, something that you are either born with or without. They are usually easily discouraged and may:
- Avoid taking risks or trying new things due to fear of failure
- Feel frustrated and give up
- Don’t like to be challenged; leads to fear of failure
Motivation, engagement and having a growth mindset all go together – you can’t have one without the other.
What mindset do you have?
Tip #2: Building Trust
Trust is important to people, teams, and company culture. Trust is good for the bottom line of any business – like a dividend. In his book called “The Speed of Trust, The One Thing That Changes Everything”2,
Stephen Covey and Rebecca R. Merrell say that trust is necessary to the credibility and empowerment of any organization, or human relationship.
In his framework for understanding trust, Covey also states:
- When trust is absent, people keep trying to protect themselves against those whom they cannot trust.
- Character and competence underlie trust. Character includes integrity, motivation, and the right attitude. Competence includes the skills, capabilities, work habits and products.
- Trust can be built, broken, and restored. Trust is not constant. Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for the results.
People who work in a trusted atmosphere collaborate proactively and get things done faster and at a lower cost.
- Trust is universally necessary and productive.
- Distrust is costly to business.
- High trust organizations tend to be collaborative, innovative, creative, and effective.
- Trust inspires workers to “get better.”
Steady improvement builds your capabilities and drives your motivation which is essential to trust. According to Covey, anyone can improve behaviors that instill trust such as:
- Talking straight – be clear in your communication
- Demonstrating respect
- Creating transparency
- Right wrongs (or repair the damage when trust is broken)
- Living up to, and delivering on commitments in a timely and dependable manner
Trust is good for the bottom line.
Can you list out 3 things you have done recently to enhance trust?
Tip #3: Invest in Personal Development
Encourage and ask your peers to be mentors and employee advocates for you, as well as company leaders. Create a personal development plan with multiple areas of knowledge and skill categories to improve throughout the year and be held accountable by your mentors.
Identify and work with mentors that have different skills. For example, if you want to learn a new technology, you could find a mentor that has that knowledge. If you want to learn new leadership skills, ask a team leader or a Senior Manager to mentor you.
Develop the plan and then stick to it! You will quickly start to see positive results.
Sheryl Sandberg, in her book “Lean In” describes working your way to the top of the corporate ladder is more like navigating a jungle gym. The traditional hierarchical career ladder no longer exists in companies for most workers which means that the days of joining a company and staying there to climb that one ladder of success are long gone3.
Jungle gyms offer a more creative approach to learning and motivation for your career.
- Your career doesn’t have to be mapped out from the start.
- There are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym.
- The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, or reentering the workforce4.
Take – Away
- Motivation takes a growth mindset. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from pursuing your aspirations.
- Trust is universally necessary and productive. It is necessary for the organization to enable employee empowerment to drive business results, retain employees and customers.
- Chart a career path like a jungle gym. Your career path may be more horizontal than vertical like a traditional career ladder. Take some risks, choose growth, motivate, and challenge yourself. Make a goal of getting out of your comfort zone, find new interests and gain new skills for not only today, but also for tomorrow.
Here are three (3) things you can do to kick off the New Year:
1) If you are new to a team and want to build trust, open a meeting with a team “icebreaker” to learn a fun fact about team members. Icebreakers can be as easy as asking a simple question “Where is your favorite vacation place and why?
2) Reserve some time on your calendar each week to learn about the roles and responsibilities that people have in other departments in the company, determine the new skills that you would be able to develop by working there and then watch for opportunities to join. This will strengthen your skillset, LinkedIn Profile and resume.
3) Be intentional about developing a growth mindset. A helpful tip here is to start a daily journal to write positive thoughts, identify the challenges you are experiencing and then work the options that are available to resolve them.
What are the 3 things that you can improve on to stay engaged and motivated?
(1) Carol Dweck, “What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means”; https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means
(2) Content based on Public Summary of “The Speed of Trust, The One Thing That Changes Everything”, by Stephen Covey and Rebecca R. Merrell https://public.summaries.com/files/8-page-summary/the-speed-of-trust.pdf
(3) Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In, Women Work and the Will to Lead”, (New York: Borzoi Book Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Division of Random House, 2013). 53.