I was told that by one of our business coaches recently. It’s true- life is for learning and we always encourage our clients to be proactive learners. There has never been a better time to learn about the extraordinary advances in the study of human behavior and neuroscience. What is emerging is a picture that is counterintuitive to what was previously understood about how we process our world. Concepts like: how we learn, what makes us happy, and what motivates us are defying the laws of behavioral physics. For me, someone who has built a career around certain concepts that define my approach to team building, it is time to rethink my game plan.
There are three pertinent ideas that we focus on that will revolutionize the way employee engagement and team building is approached:
Vision Matters: When you start with WHY, instead of HOW or WHAT, people become loyal and motivated
Purpose Matters: When it comes to rewarding performance, the higher the reward, the poorer the result. When you have purpose at work, you are more productive
Happiness Matters: Productivity is greatly enhanced by a positive workplace
It will never cease to astound me that that the majority of public and private education focuses solely on subject matter (WHAT and HOW). Once you learn how the human brain is built and how it really works, it is infuriating when you realize that we teach our children backwards. It is a simple fact of biology: if the human brain learns WHY before HOW or WHAT it can become truly engaged in the subject matter. As a matter of fact, the latest neurologic research has revealed that we have lots of things backwards. Productivity greatly increases when we take the time to explain why to our employees. When the WHY is in the form of a mission or vision statement, that is held in high esteem by the executives of a company, and all work activity is lived through the WHY, the productivity of the team skyrockets. A by-product of this phenomenon is brand loyalty. Apple and Disney are two great examples of organizations that are built on WHY. And why is WHY so effective in creating such extraordinary results? Our brains are built that way!
A recent workplace study at M.I.T. revealed that the long-held belief that positive results (praise, advancement, money) doesn’t always motivate people to improve their performance. What is amazing, is that study reveals that monetary rewards only work when the task being rewarded is mechanical. Once the task calls for even rudimentary cognitive skill, monetary rewards have the opposite affect! A larger reward leads to poorer performance! How can that possibly be true? It turns out that our brains are wired so that we need three things to motivate us when we use our brain beyond mechanical basic skills:
- Autonomy - we don’t want to be micro-managed
- Self-mastery - we feel better about ourselves when we are good at what we do
- Purpose - we need to feel that our work means something
What does this mean? We, humans, must be fulfilled to be productive. Beyond that, we need a workplace governed by VISION and PASSION. Teach us to do our jobs, let us get good at them, and then allow us do them. We are more motivated by a positive work environment, where we matter as human beings more than monetary rewards.
HAPPINESS is the only real way to create a truly productive workplace. We need to start treating people like people, not trained animals. The carrot only works on the most rudimentary tasks. Happiness must be considered when you are trying to motivate a team and when productivity is the goal.
How to implement these finding in your workplace:
- Give your team a clear, concise vision of WHY your company exists. Disney: “We make dreams come true”; Apple: “We want to make a ding in the universe”. Clear PURPOSE will motivate your team through PASSION!
- Take money off the table: pay your people what they are worth so they can focus on their jobs. Once money is off the table, motivate your people in a workplace where great training leads to autonomy, self-mastery and a sense of purpose.
- Create a positive workplace: science tells us that when we are happy, we are more productive. By giving your team purpose, you ignite passion and motivate them to be truly engaged in their work.
Questions for you to consider:
- What is your company passionate about?
- Does your team feel the same way?
- Does the thought of going to work excite you or make you happy?