Team Building

How to Love Where You Work

To be happier and more effective at work, we need connection. We need to connect
on three levels: with our tasks, with our company, and with our colleagues. Let’s take a look at why each of them matter, and how you can help make them happen for your team.

Connecting with Task

There will always be less inspiring parts of our jobs. Few of us dream of spending our days knee-deep in emails or of having arguments with the printer about which paper tray it should print from. And that’s okay.

But there has to be some part of the job that really lights us on fire. Funnily enough, it’s rarely what people assume is our strongest motivator – it’s almost never the money. In 1959, the American psychologist Frederick Herzberg’s researched job motivation, resulting in what he called Two Factor Theory. The theory shows the things that motivate us are not simply the mirror-image opposite of what demotivates us.

Herzberg created a list of the things that motivate us and a list of the things that demotivate us. Demotivators are things that make us uncomfortable, and these had to be cleared away, or taken off the table, to give us a chance at satisfaction. These ‘hygiene factors’ include safety, company policies, supervision, work conditions, remuneration, salary, and security.

If these hygiene factors aren’t ‘dealt with’ it affects our happiness at work. But increasing them beyond that threshold won’t make us any happier. Let’s look at salary, on the hygiene list. Herzberg found that employers had to pay people enough for them to feel appreciated and adequately compensated for their time and skill. But their happiness didn’t increase by being paid more than that.

When you ask advice on how to reward your high performers, how often have you heard a raise or a bonus suggested? Those things can be great, but it’s probably got less to do with the money itself as it does with the relation between it and one of the key motivating factors: recognition.

Herzberg identifies key motivators as achievement, recognition, a sense of meaning in the job itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth. So sure, go ahead and give your best performer a bonus. But be sure to tell her it’s recognition for her above-and-beyond efforts. And maybe offer her a new challenge along with it to keep her motivated into the future.

Connecting to Company

This week at Conversari Global we said goodbye to a long-term team member. We sat cross-legged in a circle, sliding a tissue box between us, as we each shared with her a heartfelt ‘thank you’. Her warmth, generosity, and commitment to her work and her genuine nature were themes in each message, in both languages. As an international, multilingual team based in Mexico City, it’s normal for our team to jump from Spanish to English in meetings.

It occurred to me that part of the difficulty of saying goodbye was because she reflected the values of our company so strongly we felt we were losing a necessary piece. She had role-modeled to many of us the company’s culture, showed us ‘what’s expected here‘. She’s someone with a depth of courage – in the original sense of the word courage: ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart’. Research holds that we win trust by being vulnerable first, though we assume the cause-and-effect works the other way.

Weirdly, this tearful goodbye was motivating for me. It reinforced that I’m at the right company. I felt a connection to a prioritizing of our humanity, a focus on our emotional experience, and to a place where I can bring my whole self to work. Radical authenticity? My colleagues are off the charts! We all need these “I belong here” experiences to feel truly satisfied in our companies. A sense that we’re doing tasks that matter, and that the company mission and culture is something we are aligned to. For you, it might be a competitive spirit to be the biggest or fastest; a deeply innovative culture where fresh ideas are king; or an ecological or social justice drive.

This is the stuff that’s especially important to millennials, and something I think they should be celebrated for. Of course we should believe in what we’re doing. We spend more time at work than at any other area of our life – is it so unreasonable to want to feel inspired by it? If you want access to the best of the bunch – millennials making up 50% of the workforce! – you want to be clear about what you do, why you do it, and how you get it done. If you’re not connected spiritually to the ‘why’, how will you inspire your workforce to be?

Creating a strategic narrative can be a powerful way to get that message across, especially if you involve your teams in a collective design process.

Perhaps you’ve already got people motivated by their job and singing the company’s praises. There’s still one more factor to make sure we really want to get up and go there five days a week. We need to feel connected to the people around us.

Connecting with Colleagues

Ever worked in the sort of office you dread going to? A feel of toxicity that floods your senses and has you on edge, or feeling under attack, from the moment you enter? We now know that these uncomfortable experiences aren’t harmless. They are shockingly expensive for companies.
Office rudeness causes a measurable loss to productivity and innovation. Even those not in the direct line of fire, but merely witnessing a rude encounter, reduce their performance by 25%, and generate 45% fewer ideas as a result. When we are exposed to rudeness, we are five times more likely to miss key pieces of information, even when it’s right there in front of us.

What can you do to make sure your team experiences civility at work? Model it. That can be as easy as saying hello to people as you pass by. And making it clear that mistakes are welcome, as are off-the-wall ideas. This is a place you can feel safe to take risks – we need you to for this to be an innovative organization. You’ll also need to call rudeness out when you see it. Don’t make it personal: explain that it’s key team value, something that affects team performance and creativity, and that’s why it’s to be avoided.

How Will You Improve Team Motivation?

We need to feel fulfilled by our tasks, aligned with the company’s values and mission, and safe with our colleagues to be our happiest and most productive. A key element is that you can’t know all this about your team by simple observation. So what are the strategies to get your team there?

Individual performance reviews give you a chance to make sure each person on your team is playing to their strengths and feeling challenged and recognized in their job. A series of strategic narrative workshops with the whole team is a fantastic way to rewrite the company mission and values in an inclusive, meaningful way.

Improving culture and raising civility is something you’ll need to role model and to clarify your expectations around. You’ll also need to check-in regularly and ask your team about their experience of civility at work, and do something with the information you glean.

If you’d like support planning out initiatives that increase your team’s happiness and effectiveness at work, we’d love to collaborate with you. We’re motivated by our work, helping companies create workplaces their staff are genuinely excited to come to each day.

We believe that organizations can build their future now by focusing on customer experience, harnessing relationships at all levels, and creating cultures of innovation. Around these three pillars, we work with organizations and teams to help them align their strategy, leadership model and communication style.

We design tailor-made consulting and training programs to help create congruent cultures and high-impact teams, demonstrating ROI in productivity, image and effectiveness.

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