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What Does Strategy Have To Do With Motivation?

When it comes to motivation, one way to characterise employees is as:

  • Grassroots: their self-fulfilment is obtained outside the workplace. They come to work to be busy/enjoy what they are doing/socialise/make a living. Members of this group are motivated by being treated with respect, decently paid and provided with stability and variation (monotony is rarely a positive factor).

  • Drivers: work is their main (if not only) source if self-fulfilment. Whether they are in a management position or not, they want to feel they are diving the organisation forward. They are motivated by being a part of something bigger, and pulling their weight to its success.

Both groups are equally important and no organisation can succeed without them. It's fairly straightforward to keep the first group motivated - if you make sure they know they are appreciated and respected, their work is safe even in times of stress and they are well paid there is very little else that needs to be done to keep them motivated and happy. Over time some may choose to be a part of the second group but that's only positive.

The Drivers group is more challenging - how do you make them feel they are part of something bigger when not all are part of (senior) management?

The default for many organisations, if they care at all, is to publish their mission and vision statements and hope everyone falls in line behind them.

Even if these statements are genuine (many are just lip service but this is for another article), the chances that they will generate motivation are slim, especially when those that are expected to be motivated had zero contribution to creating them.

Creating vision and mission statements that will reflect all the organisation's employees’ values is nigh on impossible. A viable alternative is to create a strategy in a process involving people from across the organisation.

And here is the rub - traditional strategic plans are created by consultants (with input from the organisation's management). As such, they generate a very low level of engagement, and certainly don't involve all that may have a contribution.

If you want to generate a true change in an organisation the way to do it is to base your strategy on what your key employees relate to. The way to do this is by a (series of) strategic planning workshops that start with identifying the desired organisational culture and build the strategy based on it.

The process itself ensures that all that are part of it will be engaged in implementing the strategy, and so long as the strategy and its implementation are in line with the organisational culture you guarantee the Drivers group members motivation. As leaders, formal or otherwise they will pull the rest with them.

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