Managing as Motivating – How Internal Communication Can Empower Your Team
As a manager, it is much more important to motivate your team than to monitor every minute detail of your operative business. Selecting the right people and motivating them not only increases productivity, but innovative potential as well.
Intrinsic motivation, which is driven by finding one’s work inherently rewarding, and extrinsic motivation―working towards external rewards―go hand in hand and need to be balanced in order to be most effective.
Why Immediate Feedback Works Best
Praise, giving an employee positive feedback on tasks well done, and potential bonuses are all part of extrinsic motivation.
All too often, these forms of motivation are reduced to an annual performance review. This approach doesn’t work, because one key factor of successful motivation is continuity. Nobody would play Tetris or any other game if the feedback for making it to the next level lagged behind by a whole year.
Social media tools part of the organization’s internal communication strategy can help here, but more important is a cultural shift towards an organization that welcomes feedback. Often, middle management is reluctant to embrace such measures, because they feel that open feedback threatens their power as the organization’s gatekeepers. They decide whether to praise an employee or not―while social media enables employees to praise their colleagues independently. Of course, such bottom-up feedback was possible in the past as well, but a “well done” said during a coffee break is much less visible than one published on an organization’s intranet.
A good example of the concerns that can be associated with such internal communication is the recent Google incident during which employees voluntarily shared their salary information on the organization’s social media platform in an attempt to discover potential discrepancies in pay. I won’t be the judge whether this was the right thing to do, but it certainly shows how perceived unfairness can lead to negative motivation.
But aside from providing a platform for extrinsic motivation such as direct praise, internal communications can play an important part in fostering intrinsic motivation as well. Participation in internal communications can influence job satisfaction itself, as well as the perception of fairness, ethical standards, and team spirit.
How Smart Internal Communication Empowers Employees
Smart internal communication can empower your whole team by ensuring that your employees are committed to achieving great results so that they can be shared. Therefore internal communication needs to:
- Understand the employee audience and their information needs. Not every employee has the same information need. Make a list of stakeholders, group them according to their requirements, and select the right channels and content for each group.
- Enable leaders to motivate people. Not every manager reached his or her current position because of great communication skills. Many underestimate the value of internal communication and could benefit from leadership trainings that specifically address good communication. The same motivators that work for employees also work for their leaders: Motivate them by giving immediate feedback
- A good practice is to implement an information seismograph and to check at least once a month which recently published information worked well, which didn’t and why. This helps managers to understand what type of content is successful.
- Choose the channels wisely. Although internal communications are shifting to digital channels more and more, you need to ensure that every employee is reached. Because every employee has a mobile device nowadays, a good starting point is opening the internal communication channel to private mobile devices.
By keeping these guidelines in mind, a well-thought-out internal communications system can be a source of the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that allows your team to reach its highest potential and push the envelope of what the organization can achieve.
Photo: shutterstock / Catalin Grigoriu
Originally published on LinkedIn
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