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Posted by Julie Winkle Giulioni, Learning Strategist/Author/Speaker, DesignArounds.
Learning strategist, speaker and author of the Amazon bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.
For decades, management science has concerned itself with researching and developing sophisticated systems for understanding and unleashing employee motivation. In organizations, we’ve experimented with countless combinations of possible solutions to arrive at that magical motivational mix. We’ve tried:
Is it possible that we’ve over-engineered a complex solution to a simple problem? Is it possible that it’s a lot more organic and more altruistic than all of this? Is it possible that motivation can be enhanced and even optimized simply by helping others connect their work with the value it brings to others? Recent research suggests an emphatic “yes,” “yes,” and “yes.”
Adam Grant, the Wharton professor and author of “Give and Take,” offers considerable evidence that making the connection between work and the value it brings to others activates motivation.
In his scholarship call-center experiment, time on the phone increased by 142% and revenues grew by 171% to 400% after the callers met those benefiting from the scholarships for which they were raising funds. In another study, Grant determined that positioning healthcare provider hand-washing in terms of benefits to the patient (versus benefits to the providers) triggered a 33% increase in the volume of product used and 10% increase in compliance.
These studies suggest that as humans we may be intrinsically motivated to serve and bring value to others. If that’s the case (or if you want to believe that it’s the case and conduct your own field studies to confirm it), then it behooves leaders to explore four strategies that may tap into this altruism and activate a service/value/motivation loop.
Altruism and service to others might be the most powerful (and under-leveraged) source of internal motivation within employees. Leaders who are willing to consider and explore this possibility will bring greater humanity to the workplace, unleash potential and performance, and in the process experience a more profound and satisfying connection to their own work. In this way, they’ll help themselves and those around them find the motive behind their motivation.
This post originally appeared at SmartBlog on Leadership.