This post is the final in a three-part series about keeping great talent.
I’d like to share the research that really made me see the value of science in leadership and business.
For me, one of the most enlightening approaches to understanding motivation can be found in the work of bestselling author and speaker on business, work and human behaviour, Daniel Pink.
In his TED talk and book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink talks about the science of what motivates us and makes a case for rethinking how we run our businesses.
Based on many years of research into the science of human motivation, Pink argues that until recent years, there was a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.
Whether this mismatch is at a grass roots level (between a line manager and their team), an organisational policy level, or both, we can all learn something from Pink’s suggested ‘operating system’ for business to understand what motivates people.
3 great motivators: Autonomy, mastery and purpose
Autonomy – our urge to direct our own lives.
This is part engagement, part leadership. Pink says people don’t engage when they are being ‘managed’. He’s right. People engage when they are given the opportunity to be self-directed. Those of us who are lucky enough to have worked with a leader who has a true coaching style know the joy and powerful impact of autonomy.
Mastery – our desire to get better at something that matters.
Every interview I’ve ever done has featured one or more of the following words: Career development, progression, learn, grow, next step, new skills. If you’re passionate about what you do, it’s only natural that you’ll want to feel a sense of mastery.
But a feeling of mastery shouldn’t be reserved for annual appraisals or linked to pay rises or promotions. Feedback, opportunity and scope should be part of the every day.
Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
Pink talks about two types of purpose. The type with a capital P is about making a difference in the world, while purpose with a ‘little’ p is about making a contribution. Both types of purpose are motivating.
Although the word ‘purpose’ doesn’t always come up in interviews or feedback conversations, it has an underlying importance for all of us. While the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of our work is important, the ‘why’ could be the difference between a happy, motivated employee and someone who’s just plodding along.
Think about the question children ask repeatedly when they’re learning about the world: “Why?”. Purpose and meaning matters.
I love what I do. I’m motivated by providing an authentic, knowledgable and refreshing recruitment experience.
One of the many things I love about my job is what I learn from the people I meet.
When I ask people what they loved about a previous job or company, I hear the same answers, time and time again. “I loved the team”, “the people were awesome”, “I learnt so much from my manager”, “the culture was amazing”.
What’s the common theme in all of this? People.
The reason people love their jobs is people. It’s why they stay, and it’s why they go.
Great relationships and team culture – all about people.
Career development, opportunity for growth, work-life balance and accountability - all actions and decisions made by people.
Feedback, recognition, autonomy and inspiration – all determined by the people who lead.
Keeping great talent doesn’t have to be complex.
The people in your team are people first and employees second.
Understanding what motivates them and using this to inform how you connect, communicate and lead could be the key to keeping great talent.