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5 ways to motivate people for higher performance


joshuabrusse.jpgBy Joshua Brusse, Chief Architect, Asia Pacific and Japan, HP Software Professional Services


You hear the cliché all the time: People are our most important asset. But let’s actually look at that statement. If people are so important to your organization, how is that “asset” performing? Is it contributing to the objectives of the company? Is the performance of your human capital driving better business outcomes?


Today’s workforce is very different from what it was a generation or so ago. If you truly want to innovate, you’ve got to figure out how to motivate a 21st century workforce. Here are five things you can do to improve workforce performance. 


1. Reinvent Maslow’s pyramid

It’s worth going back to Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs to remind us of what motivates people. On the left, are the needs as Maslow characterized them originally. And on the right are the same needs expressed for today’s workforce.


left pyramid.jpg

right piramid.jpg 










According to Maslow, once a person has fulfilled a need for one layer, they’ll move up to a higher level. And numerous studies have shown that in the workplace, if work goes beyond simple tasks, monetary compensation (level 1) becomes less important. If you’re going to motivate your people, focus on the top three layers of the pyramid – because generally that is what will matter to your employees.


Changes in the way we work mean we need to reassess how needs are being fulfilled. For instance, it’s much more common now to work from home. But working from home can interfere with Belonging needs. If you’re not paying attention to that person’s feelings of inclusion and appreciation, they’ll look to fill those needs outside of work, and performance suffers.


2. Understand the generations, but don’t stereotype

Your organization is an eclectic mix of different generations, each motivated by different drives and behaviors. And maybe you’ve heard management advice that goes like this: Baby Boomers are motivated by status and the corner office. Gen Xers want freedom. Whereas GenY wants meaningful work. While these distinctions can be helpful, they can also blind you to the reality in your organization. Think about generations in terms of behavior and culture, not necessarily age. After all, there are a lot of Baby Boomers who’ve adopted GenY habits and vice versa.


It’s also worth recognizing that you need different approaches to motivate your people – since one size fits all doesn’t work. Take the time to plan goals and careers with individuals, not an entire generation.


3. Manage for outcomes, not time

Today we talk about work-life integration rather than work-life balance. Many people no longer work 9 to 5, but they work nine or more hours a day. They may not necessarily work in the office, but they work from Starbucks or at home. They may work hard, but they’re also integrating Facebook during their day.


Increasingly, people are no longer being managed for time. Rather you’re looking for them to produce certain outcomes. It requires a shift in mindset from paying someone for their time to paying for outcomes.


Outcome-based management doesn’t work for everyone. There are some roles where outcome is related to time, or where the job is unsuited for it. But even very structured roles like personal assistant I see moving from time-based to outcome-based. My PA is not in the office all the time. She works from home when she can because technology makes it possible now.


I’ll write more about outcome-based management in a future post.


4. De-emphasize processes

Processes are important to run your business. But if you overdo processes, people tune you out and you’re less effective. It’s about finding the right balance. Most people have the discipline to find that balance themselves, so processes become less important. 


If you have an outcome-based culture with the right balance of processes, you’re setting the stage for innovation. And you’re creating a company culture that can attract and retain valuable employees.


5. Be a leader, not a manager

Lastly, leadership is critical for motivating your workforce and enabling them to be more innovative. Especially with the younger generation of workers, if you manage them, you turn them off. So don’t manage your employees, lead them.


I’ll write more about ways you can enhance your leadership abilities in an upcoming post.


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Suresh G P

Well said Joshua!  All of them are key aspects to improve high performance considering the fact people`s motivation is dependent on variety of factors.


My humble opinion

 Manage outcomes and not time

 - This is going to become common to differentiate people irrespective of the sector/role they play in organization considering competition and importantly ROI for company.  So would be keen to know more about your perspective around outcome management


Deemphasize Process -  One thing that the Owners need to be aware is that Rules have to be dealt with the overall purpose in mind and not following it verbatim.  There are numerous instances that I have seen in organizations, people are so rigid toward process that they defeat the purpose of  a genuine case seeking help.

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